Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Maui's Native Hawaiian Health Care System, acknowledges that the wave of baby boomer retirees is upon all providers of health care.
In this context, our mission is to "improve the health status of Native Hawaiians on the island of Maui by empowering them to be their own health advocates."
We provide Maui's community with our ability to perform dental outreach and comprehensive general dental treatments regardless of the clients' ability to pay. Our areas of concentrated outreach are Keanae to Hana, Kahakuloa and Hawaiian homelands. We provide needed dental care to all active hui clients, upon interdepartmental referral.
The hui's Oral Health Department is unique in its approach to delivering care because we concentrate on Native Hawaiian values and cultural identity as the prime motivators to facilitate clients' overall health. Within this concept, we are available to hui clients and participate in community events to help promote awareness of our services by attending the annual Hana Health Fair and the Ho'olaule'a in Keanae.
The Oral Health Department collaborates with Maui Economic Opportunity, Liberty Dialysis and Veterans Affairs to help with the clients' dental needs.
With regard to baby boomers, the demand for dental services is extreme. The boomers typically will need much of the older work redone, such as fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals and dentures. Fortunately, with the increased improvements in implant dentistry, tooth loss may not be as hopeless as it was in the past. The socioeconomic issues of boomers will be greater than at any other time, impacting all programs by forcing fewer services to more and more individuals. That is why prevention and continuing dental treatments are paramount for our boomer-aged clients.
Also relevant to baby boomers, oral hygiene and untreated dental conditions have been shown to affect heart and kidney health. Poor oral hygiene can exacerbate diabetes and can lead to an increase in subacute bacteremias. The increase in subacute bacteremias has been associated with an increase in inflammatory markers, like "C-reactive protein." The increase in inflammation can contribute to vascular disease. Furthermore, boomers may have been exposed to years of smoking and substance abuse that may require medical consultations and extensive dental treatments.
We provide services to our clients while encouraging each client to be his or her own health advocate. We work very hard at empowering each client to overcome past dental traumas and misconceptions so they can make the best choice for themselves without fear, in a culturally sensitive way. Every client is unique, and we strive to achieve the best treatments and advice for each client.
Future goals are to:
* Paul W. Thomas is oral health care director of Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Maui's Native Hawaiian Health Care System at Cameron Center. He studied dentistry at the University of Southern California. Na Moku Ola means "The Islands of Life," with special focus on Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe and the ideals of health and vigor we pursue.