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Holomua Kākou: 2022 Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition Annual Statewide Meeting Recap

Holomua Kākou (moving forward together) was the theme of the 2022 Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition (HOHC) Annual Statewide Meeting on November 16th; fitting for the first in-person gathering since the coalition’s inception in 2019. Since then, the HOHC has grown in membership, operational capacity, and has taken on among the most pressing oral health issues.  

Coalition members and stakeholders from all counties were warmly welcomed to the Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus with opening presentations by community partners, Papa Ola Lokahi, and Po‘okela Kanoaokalani Switzer, Hoˋoponopono and Laˋau Kahea Practitioner. Participants heard the latest updates on the highly anticipated rollout of the recently approved dental benefit expansion for adults with Medicaid. Following her presentation, Priscilla Thode, Contracts & Monitoring Compliance Section Administrator for Department of Human Services’ Med-QUEST Division, opened the floor for Q&A with attendees. While all the answers aren’t yet available, we know this will be a work in progress and that HOHC will be there every step of the way. 

Dr. Anthony Kim, HOHC Chair and Waimānalo Health Center Dental Director, offered a brief glimpse of the journey HOHC has been through since 2019, how we’ve arrived to today, and where we’re headed. Dr. Kim closed his remarks with a ceremonial introduction of the HOHC Leadership Council, presenting lei and engraved placards to commemorate their dedication to improving oral health through their involvement with the Coalition. 

A statewide panel included, Dr. Diane Paloma, President and CEO of Hawai‘i Dental Service, Dr. Emi Eno-Orikasa, Chair of the Maui Oral Health Task Force and Hui No Ke Ola Pono Dental Director, and Dr. Russell Kim, community advocate and owner of Windward Smiles in Kaneohe.  Moderator Tercia Ku, of Papa Ola Lokahi, guided the panel discussion on trends and perspective for the future of oral health in Hawai‘i.  The panelists’ shared observations and visions from their respective sectors certainly resonated with the audience as they contemplated, from their view, the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead.  These sentiments were echoed in a pre-recorded message from Governor-Elect Josh Green.  Special guest speaker Representative Nadine Nakamura was also present at the annual meeting to commend the coalition on its recent advocacy work and to reaffirm her continued commitment to improving oral health outcomes among vulnerable residents.

The meeting was brought full circle through the afternoon breakout sessions. Meeting attendees participated in a facilitated group examination of how the HOHC’s values (Equity, Community, Pono, Integrity) have been demonstrated throughout our past work and what future initiatives should be considered to ensure these values remain at our core. The work ahead will not be easy. No, it’s going to require collaborative, systemic action if we are to be successful. But as we’ve heard before, “we can do big things”. We have done big things! We’ve done it by staying true to our values and by working together.  As long as we continue to move forward together, through all the challenges we’ll most certainly face along the way, we will continue to do big things.

For more information on the Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition, please contact Patrick Donnelly at or

Patrick Donnelly

Patrick Donnelly

Program Manager: Hawai'i Oral Health Coalition
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