UH-MC renovation named for Inouye

A project was launched Sunday to renovate the first floor of the University of Hawaii Maui College’s Noi’i Building as the Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center, according to an announcement.

The center will increase clinical training space for the college’s dental hygiene and dental assisting programs. It also will incorporate the Maui Oral Health Center, now located off campus.

Inouye served in the U.S. Senate from 1963 until he died a year ago Tuesday at age 88.

UH Interim President David Lassner said it was appropriate to name the new UH-Maui College facility after the late senator.

“Senator Daniel K. Inouye understood how vitally important it was to make both health care and higher education accessible for all Hawaii residents, including on the Neighbor Islands,” Lassner said. “The UH-Maui College dental hygiene and dental assisting programs provide vital workforce development, giving Maui students the education and skills they need to serve their communities in high-quality jobs. The UH Board of Regents naming of this Daniel K. Inouye Allied Health Center is a truly fitting recognition that honors the senator’s vision, legacy and unwavering support of the entire University of Hawaii.”

The event was attended by Inouye’s widow, Irene Hirano Inouye, among other dignitaries.

The oral health center has served as a teaching lab, as well as a place where students gain practical clinical experience by providing affordable and accessible oral/dental health care to the underserved, low-income, uninsured families and children of Maui County, the announcement said.

Last year, the oral health center provided dental care to more than 3,000 patients in more than 11,000 appointments. By May, approximately 176 dental assistants and 19 dental hygienists will have completed their respective programs and be employed as dental professionals.

“The success of the Maui Oral Health Center has been a community effort,” said UH-Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto. “More than 50 Maui County dentists, 30 organizations and 100 donors have worked together to combine education with real-world needs. Re-naming the center . . . underscores the importance of collaboration that make a difference in learning for our community’s future.”

The new health center will include 18 operatories, radiology facilities and state-of-the-art digital imaging systems. The center is expected to be completed in early 2015. The college’s dental assisting and hygiene programs have been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Work on the Inouye center is part of the $4.5 million renovation of the college’s Noi’i science building.