In 2010, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health created National Rural Health Day on the third Thursday of  November annually, as a way to applaud the ongoing efforts, contributions, and collaborations to address the unique challenges in accessing and delivering health care services in rural communities. November 19, 2020, marked the 10th anniversary of National Rural Health Day. However, Kauaʻi chose to honor all events and activities occurring throughout the week as Mayor Derek Kawakami proclaimed November 15 through 21 as National Rural Health Week on Kaua‘i.

The Kaua‘i Rural Health Association (KRHA) took the lead on gathering information on events occurring throughout the week. KRHA advocates for rural health issues and promotes communication, education and research of issues affecting rural health. Members of KRHA include health practitioners, community advocates, members of local rural health associations in Kaua‘i County and its residents. KRHA collaborates with the Hawai‘i State Rural Health Association (HSRHA) and is a member of the National Rural Health Association. The 2020 KRHA board of directors are: President Justin Kollar (Office of the Prosecuting Attorney), Vice-President Valerie Saiki (Hawai‘i Public Health Institute/Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i), Secretary Charlene Burgess (Veteran Affairs); Treasurer Fran Becker (Nā Lei Wili AHEC), 

Hawai‘i State Rural Health Association Kaua‘i Representative Chany Hamilton (private practice), and board members Dr. Ronald Fujimoto (United Healthcare), and Ray Ho (Kaua‘i District Health Office).

National Rural Health Week on Kaua‘i took the opportunity to showcase the work and accomplishments across Kaua‘i that support rural health and to applaud all activities and their ongoing efforts that address the unique challenges of accessing and delivering health care services on Kaua‘i.

The 2020 highlights on Kaua‘i included (non-stop even during a pandemic):

  • November 16 & 19: Valerie Saiki (HIPHI/CTFH) went on air, live with Ron Wood on FM97. Mahalo to FM97 as a sponsor of promoting rural healthcare on Kaua‘i during two radio events: discussing the many events that support healthy living on Kaua‘i for the National Rural Health week on Kaua‘i proclamation by the Mayor, and promoting the Great American Smoke Out to help encourage those thinking about quitting to designate November 19 as a day to experience life, smoke (and vape)-free, with access to services available on Kaua‘i and over the phone.
  • November 19: American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, on-island tobacco cessation services offered by:
    • Mālama Pono Health Services, call Ramon 631-3256 (services for 18+);
    • Ho‘ola Lāhui Hawai‘i, call Rebecca 652-4428 (services for 18+);
    • Hawai‘i Tobacco Quitline (statewide): 1-800-QUIT-NOW (services for ages 13 and older). 
  • November 20: Get Fit Kauai’s Worksite Wellness Challenge Awards Breakfast: honoring the 10 Kaua‘i teams that completed the challenge, and during the altering-effects of Covid (private event). For more info go to GetFitKauai.com. A list of the 2020 participating teams are:
    • Aqua Engineers
    • Costco
    • County of Kaua‘i
    • Grove Farm
    • Kaua‘i Coffee
    • Kaua‘i Community College
    • Kaua‘i District Health Office
    • Kaua‘i Marriott
    • Sheraton Kaua‘i Coconut Coast Resort
    • Wilcox Health
  • November 21: The Kaua‘i Fatherhood Council and partners held their annual Kaua‘i Men’s Conference, 10 AM-1 PM (virtually). The event was offered free to the public with additional opportunities to hear from additional speakers throughout the following week.
  • November 16-20: Kauaʻi honored National Hunger and Homelessness week with activities throughout the week from the Kaua‘i County Housing Agency in partnership with the Kaua‘i Community Alliance and 15 other non-profits that offered flu vaccinations, vision screening, resource cards, hygiene products, and sign-ups for housing vouchers and the bus pass programs to the houseless at three locations across the island. Outreach dates and locations were:
    • ‘Anini Beach Park (north): Monday, November 16.
    • Salt Pond Beach Park (south): Tuesday, November 17.
    • Lydgate Beach Park (east): Friday, November 20.
  • November 20: YWCA’s revamped Na Wahine Alaka‘i O Kaua‘i event for a drive-In movie at the Ocean Course Hoku‘ala. Although the YWCA was unable to host their annual Awards Gala they were very excited to share an evening celebrating and honoring women leaders in our community. The Event screened: “On the Basis of Sex,” a 2018 feature film about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early life and work. They also premiered their (S)HERO Video Series: Women’s Leadership during COVID-19.

The Hawai‘i Public Health Institute and members of its programs (Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, Healthy Eating + Active Living, Hawai‘i Farm to School Hui, Hawai‘i Oral Health Coalition and Hawai‘i Public Health Training Hui) are proud to partner with KRHA and the many organizations on Kaua‘i, collaborating seamlessly to help build the health and livelihoods of our rural communities, and making Kaua‘i a healthy place to live and work, not just one week in November, but every week throughout the year!