Hamakua-Kohala Health opens in Waimea’s Carter Building

  • Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter shares her personal history with HKH’s roots.

HAMAKUA — On Jan. 26, Hamakua-Kohala Health opened a new location in Waimea’s Carter Building. The facility, HKH’s fourth, provides needed pediatric, internal medicine, and mental and behavioral health services to North Hawaii.

The site is served by Pamela McKenna, MD, pediatrician, Eric Murray, MD, internal medicine, Ilea Bain, psychologist and Candace Kauahi, certified substance abuse counselor, according to a press release issued by the provider.


The grand opening of HKH, with blessing ceremony by Kimo Ho‘opai, was attended by about 50 people, including Hawaii County Councilmembers Tim Richards and Valerie Poindexter. Poindexter commented about HKH’s roots as a plantation dispensary, then infirmary and now community health center.

She shared her experience with HKH, and the 50-plus years of history and commitment to the community.

“Hamakua-Kohala Health has gone beyond its plantation beginnings, and it has evolved into this beautiful nonprofit — reaching out to people in need of service,” she said, holding her childhood medical records from the 1960s infirmary. “We’ve got to appreciate people who came before us, who made this happen.”

Additionally, the HKH staff, board of directors, represented by outgoing president Sally Kimura and incoming president Diane Moriarty, and representatives from HMSA, Aloha Care, and Blue Zones were present. HKH was recognized with a Blue Zones designation.

“Our mission is to take care of everybody,” said CEO Irene Carpenter. “Come in the door – whether you have insurance or not, whether you speak English or not. Come in, we’ll help you with the rest.”


“One of the things we’re working on last couple of years is behavioral health,” Carpenter continued. “We knew we needed to upgrade serves in the area, and to add psychologists, psychiatrists, substance abuse specialists—and now we have. Please, tell everyone in your networks at church, at work, in your family, that we are open and ready to take patients.”

Hamakua-Kohala Health provides comprehensive primary and preventative healthcare regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. They accept most insurance, and use a sliding fee scale for those with no insurance. For more information, or to schedule a wellness visit, call Hamakua-Kohala Health at 775-7204.

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