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Direct Relief Awards $1 Million Grant to Maui Community Health Center for Wildfire Recovery


Hawaii Fires

A healthcare worker at Mālama I Ke Ola health center provides services to a young patient. The health center received a $1 million grant from Direct Relief to continue and expand vital health services to the community after devastating wildfires broke out last August. (Courtesy photo)

Global humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief today announced a $1 million grant to Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center in Maui – the single largest grant ever awarded by the organization to a Community Health Center. The financial support from Direct Relief aims to bolster wildfire recovery efforts and fortify the health center’s operations following the catastrophic Maui fires of August 8, 2023.

The Maui wildfires inflicted widespread devastation on the Maui community, underscoring the critical need for comprehensive healthcare services in the aftermath of such disasters. Acknowledging the pivotal role Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center plays in the community, Direct Relief’s historic grant aims to empower the health center to provide essential healthcare resources, support immediate medical needs, and enhance overall capacity to serve the affected community.

Recognized for its commitment to transparency, efficiency, and accountability, Direct Relief provides targeted assistance to communities in need, regardless of politics, religion, or ability to pay. Direct Relief has been a steadfast supporter of Community Health Centers across the United States, demonstrating a strong commitment to improving healthcare access for underserved populations. Identifying the crucial role that Community Health Centers play in providing comprehensive and affordable healthcare, Direct Relief has collaborated extensively with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to amplify their impact.

“NACHC is deeply appreciative of the generous grant to Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center,” said Kyu Rhee, MD, MPP, President and CEO of NACHC. “The human toll and tragedy that Lahaina residents experienced from the wildfires will take a long recovery. The funding will allow Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center to rebuild infrastructure, provide essential services to the community and help affected island residents heal. Community Health Centers, such as Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, reach beyond the walls of the exam room to address island health disparities that include higher rates of chronic disease and premature death from environmental factors, including natural disasters. We are grateful for our longstanding partnership and collaboration with Direct Relief to support Community Health Centers as they carry out their mission as the first and last frontline responders to disasters and devastation.”

Through its work with NACHC, Direct Relief aims to address the unique challenges faced by Community Health Centers, ensuring they have the necessary resources to deliver quality healthcare services. This collaboration includes targeted assistance, such as medical donations, financial support, and logistical assistance, tailored to meet the health center’s specific needs.

Direct Relief’s support extends beyond individual grants, with the organization actively engaging with NACHC to advocate for policies that strengthen the Community Health Center model and enhance its ability to serve vulnerable communities. By fostering these strategic collaborations, Direct Relief aims to bolster resilience and effectiveness nationwide.

The organization’s commitment to Community Health Centers aligns with its broader mission to improve health outcomes for individuals affected by poverty and emergencies. Direct Relief recognizes the critical role played by Community Health Centers in delivering healthcare services to those who need it most and remains dedicated to supporting and enhancing their capacity to make a lasting impact on community health.

“This investment underscores our commitment to supporting Community Health Centers and their indispensable role in delivering healthcare to those who need it most, especially during times of crisis,” stated Thomas Tighe, Direct Relief CEO. “Direct Relief is privileged to support the work being done by Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, as they continue to serve the community of Maui following the devasting fires in August of last year.”

As a Community Health Center, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center plays a vital role in delivering accessible and quality healthcare services to underserved populations. The grant from Direct Relief is intended to facilitate Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center’s recovery efforts, including the restoration of facilities, provision of medical supplies, and reinforcement of the healthcare infrastructure required to meet the evolving needs of the community. The funding will further amplify the health center’s ability to address the specific challenges faced by vulnerable communities affected by the island’s wildfires.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generous $1 million grant from Direct Relief, which comes at a pivotal moment as we continue our work to address the immediate and long-term needs of our community,” said Cassie Savell, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center COO and Deputy CEO. “This substantial contribution will allow us to significantly enhance and expand our support and services, ensuring those affected by the fires receive the care and resources they need during this challenging time. Together, with Direct Relief’s support, we are committed to rebuilding and healing our community, demonstrating the power of collaboration and compassion following the Lahaina fire devastation.”

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