Hometown Heroes: Anne Broderson is fighting for our health

  • Alii Health Center staff perform medical screening at the COVID-19 testing March 28 at Old Kona Airport Park. (LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo)

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has been said that if you want to get something done to ask a busy person. Anne Broderson, a cardiac nurse practitioner at Alii Health Center, is one of those people.

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Not only has she organized the biggest annual blood drive in the state, her efforts have made Alii Health’s drive-through COVID-19 testing the most successful on the Big Island.

“The energy and passion she has used in the medical field for years gave her the right tools to create from the ground up a COVID-19 testing and screening program that helps us deal with a once in a lifetime world Health crisis,” said Jeramy Madrid with Alii Health. “Every week she facilitates dozens of screening and Testing for COVID-19 all the while balancing a full clinic in Alii Health Centers Cardiology department. She is an amazing person who puts passion first that we are grateful that she’s fighting for our health first and foremost.”

Broderson was nominated by Dr. Brett Carey, chairman of the health service committee at the West Hawaii Community Health Center because of her commitment to the community.

“She was the genesis behind getting the COVID testing with Alii Health,” said Carey. “If it wasn’t for Anne I don’t know what we would have done to open it up and test more community members.”

Carey said he had some connections with Premier Medical which organized the first drive-through at Old Kona Airport Park.

“All’s I did is help to introduce them through email and Anne took it from there and ran with it,” he said. “I think she is someone in our community that whenever she sees a need she takes action really quickly and puts these initiatives together that normally would have big groups and meetings and committees. She just makes things happen.”

“I see a need that the community is lacking and it feels wrong not to act on it,” said Broderson, also noting that it was Carey who 3D-printed face shields and N95 masks used by personnel. “I’ve been able to rally the troops and be a good collaborator with outside agencies.”

Under Broderson’s leadership, Alii Health has performed well over 2,000 tests, the largest county testing by volume since their first testing on March 28.

“Alii Health Center is very fortunate to have Anne as a provider,” said Alii Health Center executive director Clayton McGhan. “Her outstanding contributions to our organization as well as the community through her involvement with the COVID-19 testing has not only raised community awareness, but also created a collaborative healthcare environment. She is a true ‘Hometown Hero!’”

Previous to spearheading COVID testing, Broderson organized the annual Elvis Sheppard blood drive in honor of her best friend Jen Davis’s fiancee who died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash in 2017.

“She is one of my very best friends in life,” said Davis. “She was there the day I met him and she was there the day he passed.”

At the time of the accident, Broderson was working at Kona Community Hospital.

“It was a tragic thing to happen to anybody — let alone my best friend’s fiancee,” she said.

Broderson said 78 units of blood were given to Sheppard, enough to fill a human body several times over.

“The blood products was the only thing that was going to give him a chance, and in treating Sheppard, the supply of platelets at the hospital was exhausted. I drove to Hilo that night to get more. We got back and gave him the units we got from Hilo, but it was already too late,” said Broderson. “I thought how can we give the next person in this situation a better chance?”

The morning after Sheppard died, Broderson and Davis decided they needed to do something.

“There were about 50 of his friends gathered in the hallway wanting to donate blood,” said Broderson. “That’s where the idea was born. If nothing else we wanted to at least restock the shelves for what Elvis used.”

Davis said the first blood drive was July 4, 2017.

“The blood drive was Anne’s baby from conception; to being liaison with the Blood Bank and what needed to be done. It became her passion project,” said Davis.

After the first year, they decided that it needed to be an annual endeavor.

Last year, 299 donors attended the drive, making it the biggest blood drive in the state.

“It was pretty incredible. She is so smart she is able to identify where the need lies and cares so much for her community that she jumps right in and takes ownership of these massive undertakings that you never see anybody doing,” said Davis. “She’s so intelligent she just knows exactly what needs to be done and makes it happen. She’s really a remarkable woman.”

They were planning on having the annual drive this year, but the Blood Bank had made the decision that they were not going to go to any outer islands due to the pandemic.

In addition to all the organizing Broderson has done, she has been fundraising for trauma services at Kona Community Hospital.

“Our intention for all the money that has been raised is to get a bereavement program up and running at Kona Hospital,” she said.

The program would support family members experiencing sudden death of a loved one navigate through the process, where now there is no guidance, providing someone who is a dedicated person to stay with the family to answer all their questions and offer support.

All of this while working full time as a cardiology nurse practitioner.

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“Our community is extremely blessed to have her,” said Davis.

Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.

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