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April 13, 2023

Lanai Community Health Center: Growing but never losing sight of its mission

Group of employees wearing multi-colored shirts”Written by Ann Miller. Photo courtesy of Lanai Community Health Center.

We recognize the proper use of the Hawaiian language including the ‘okina [‘], a glottal stop, and the kahakō [ō] or macron (e.g., in place names of Hawai‘i such as Lāna‘i). However, these have been omitted from this website for the best online experience for our visitors. We realize the importance and continue to use them outside of the online platform.

A year ago, Rahnia Boyer came to the Lanai Community Health Center (LCHC) as Executive Director. She grew up in two tiny, rural towns in Alaska — Bethel and Nome, both only accessible by plane.

“While two completely different places climate-wise, they are similar in many more ways,” Boyer says of her homes in Alaska and Lanai. “I always appreciated growing up in a small town and am happy that we can raise our son in a small, caring place like Lanai that provides extra-curricular opportunities he otherwise might not have had.”

Lanai Community Health Center, opened in 2008, is all about tight-knit and caring, even as it expands its vision “to be a leader in innovative health care, with a focused, culturally sensitive, holistic, patient-centered approach.”

A nonprofit Federally Qualified Heath Center, LCHC is open to everyone, but its focus is on uninsured and under-insured patients. No one is turned away due to an inability to pay and most insurance is accepted.

Boyer’s background includes a fascinating list of accomplishments. She got her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership at Gonzaga in Washington.

From there, she completed the Thomas C. Dolan Executive Diversity Program and Senior Executive Program from the American College of Healthcare Executives in Chicago. She is a Society of Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional.

Boyer worked for Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel and was Chronic Care Active Management and Prevention Director and Senior Research Associate for Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome.

She has served in multiple leadership roles for groups including UAF’s Chapter of American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the American Diabetes Association Native American Initiatives Subcommittee. Boyer’s volunteer work includes time with hospice programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and as a junior and senior high school coach and referee.

Which all bought her to LCHC, where she sees “significant growth” in the numbers of patients and staff the past few years, working together for “quality, integrated care to all.”

Services at LCHC now include primary medical, behavioral health, dental, optometry, outreach, telehealth (psychiatry, dermatology, pediatrics, OB/GYN, cardiology and pharmacy) and more. There is also a focus on reducing patients’ need to go off-island. LCHC partners with specialty care providers to coordinate care, often utilizing tele-health.

The growth is a trend Boyer sees continuing as the Center strives to follow its mission of providing comprehensive health and wellness services to a diverse community allowed to choose its model of care. LCHC utilizes family nurse practitioners (FNPs) and doctors as providers, offering patients options.

One of the FNPs is Associate Medical Director Jared Medeiros, born and raised in Wahiawa on Oahu. He graduated from Assets High School and BYU-Hawaii. His degree was in History and Hawaiian Studies and he also learned about teamwork and communication while sailing on the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Iosepa.

Medeiros got his nursing degree at the University of Hawaii. While finishing the Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s program in 2014, he came to LCHC to complete his clinical training rotation.

“I was immensely blessed to have Dr. Joseph Humphry, MD, and Aileen Duran, APRN, as my clinical preceptors,” Medeiros says. “They exemplified the mission of LCHC and what it means to provide rural health care with aloha, and that helped me to want to work with LCHC after graduating later in 2014.”

Medeiros had come to Lanai to fish with his uncle as a kid and what he saw then and in his training inspired he and his wife to call it home. They now have two children.

He and Boyer work together to oversee the Medical Department and “ensure the vision and mission of LCHC endures through the medical care we provide,” Medeiros says. He also provides primary care services as a family nurse practitioner, and assists with delivery of the Womens, Infant, and Children Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Lāna‘i residents.

Boyer and Medeiros are now planning for renovation and expansion of the clinic, and are also focused on recruitment, retention and employee development.

“My priorities are to ensure we continue in that work,” Boyer says. “And, as the team adjusts to new leadership, that we work together to develop a plan that facilitates it all in a way that makes sense for our staff and patients.

“With the growth of our patient population and staff, the renovation and expansion are critical to allow our clinical programs to develop to their best ability, so this is something that will continue to be on my mind as we move forward.”

The Center’s website (lanaihealth.org) provides information about its programs and services, including COVID updates, fitness opportunities, a scholarship to inspire work in health care and ways to donate to fulfill LCHC’s mission.

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