Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi is a private, non-profit organization originally formed in 1985 as the Puna Community Caring Health System in collaboration with Alu Like, Inc. Hawaiian community leaders (mostly farmers), health professionals, technicians, and educators responded to the Puna Hui ʻOhana’s concern about the Native Hawaiians reluctance to seek medical care until it was too late.
With funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a grassroots campaign was organized to address concerns about access to preventive and primary health care services and the many health issues facing Native Hawaiians who lived in remote areas of Hawaiʻi Island.
These community efforts led to research conducted by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute that established the need for improved access to care and later resulted in the formation of the Native Hawaiian Health Task Force of Hawaii Island in 1988. It was designated through the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act, Public Law 100-579 later that same year.
Finally in 1991, under the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act, Hui Mālama Ola Nā ʻŌiwi became incorporated and was recognized as the Hawaiian health entity serving the Big Island. Hui Mālama opened its doors in a small office in Hilo with four staff total (including the
Interim Director); two of those original staff still remain with us. At that time, staff walked through Hawaiian Homelands in Hilo (Keaukaha and Pana’ewa) and “knocked on every door, spreading the word about services”. Since that time we have grown to 35 staff and five sites across our island: Hilo, Pahoa, Na’ālehu, Captain Cook, and Waimea.