Ian Awai mini

Ian Keaupuni Awai is a student at the University of Washington School of Medicine MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant Program and a recipient of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program. Raised in the state of Washington, he and his family will be returning soon to serve in a medically underserved community in Hawaii.

I have to admit, that when I heard about Coronavirus coming to our shores, I did not take it seriously, nor did I think much would happen. The news reported that we should prepare for our lives to be interrupted. I brushed it off.

I was wrapping up an orthopedic rotation when the first cases began. Living only an hour and a half from the nursing home that was hit first, these events began to gain my curiosity, but it did not quite have my attention yet.

My next rotation was my emergency room rotation at the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. Things could not have gone better. I was gaining rapport with patients and the staff, and my preceptor was allowing me to participate in procedures.  I was learning fast. This was where I wanted to be.

On the morning of March 16th, I received an email from the Dean of the University of Washington’s School of Medicine stating that we had to pack our things.  All rotations are cancelled until further notice.

This came as a shocking blow. What did this mean? When can I go back to school? Am I graduating late now? There were a lot of questions with no answers.

No sooner did I find myself on a plane back to Washington State. At this point, there were more coronavirus cases, as well as deaths. This is when I realized this was a lot more serious than I had anticipated.

Shortly after my return, the governor placed the state on a statewide “shelter in place” and schools were cancelled. My kids were no longer going to school until further notice. We were to stay in our homes.

It is now late April, and our “shelter in place” orders continue until May. Maybe longer. This has been a trying time for our ‘ohana. Before lockdown, we were very social with friends and family. This could no longer be. We are having to socially distance ourselves from loved ones, which includes grandparents who live close by. This has been one of the most difficult aspects of this quarantine.

Come what may and love it WCCHC pohaku

We find ways to keep ourselves busy, and most importantly, sane. We are moving out of our home to an apartment, until school is pau and we can begin our next chapter in Hawai‘i. Until then, we keep ourselves active. We have been homeschooling our kids to a degree, which has not been easy, but we are managing. One day at a time. We are virtually visiting friends and family through Zoom and FaceTime, which does help. The gym has closed down, so I workout with water bottle cases and other household items, which has been a great method of self-care.  I have time to study for my boards, as well as some time playing a bit of Call of Duty with friends. This has all helped.

During this time, I am reminded of a quote I heard growing up: “come what may, and love it.” There are things we can change, and there are things we cannot. We can choose to sink into depression and be pissed at the world for what is going on. That is a fair reaction. However, what purpose does this serve? I spent a good amount of time angry. Angry that I will be graduating late, angry that I couldn’t spend more time at a rotation I loved, angry that I am unable to see my loved ones in person, angry that our lives have been disrupted. Will my anger and frustration cause the disease to leave? Will it allow our economy to survive or prevent me from potentially getting sick? Probably not.

If there is one take away, it’s this: do what you can with what you have. We have laughed, cried, yelled and screamed together. It has been a time for us to grow together in ways we haven’t before. I am grateful for this unexpected trial in life. There are a lot of uncertainties right now, and questions with no answers right now. All we can decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

~ Ian Keaupuni Awai, PA student

Pin It

A Kaonohi cropAlexander Friedenburg Ka‘ōhiai Ka‘ōnohi, born on this day in 1905, combined the mana of his kūpuna with modern science of his time. A naturopathic physician, pharmacist, botanist and healer, Dr. Ka‘ōnohi was beloved by family and patients alike.  He was also a mentor and a teacher, who personally sponsored other Hawaiians in their healing pursuits whether nursing, medicine or lā‘au lapa‘au. 

So, it seems only fitting that we honor Dr. Ka‘ōnohi on his lā hānau by shining some light on a modern day Hawaiian naturopath.

Landon Opunui ND

Dr. Landon Kalaua‘e ‘Ōpūnui has recently been appointed medical director at Nā Pu‘uwai, the Native Hawaiian Health Care System that serves the islands of Lāna‘i and Molokai, including Kalaupapa. He may be the only kanaka maoli naturopath today.

Dr. ‘Ōpūnui is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, Loyola Marymount, and Bastyr University in Seattle where he studied naturopathic medicine.  Like Dr. Ka‘ōnohi, whose grandfathers and great-grandfathers were herbal medicine practitioners, Dr. ‘Ōpūnui was inspired by his kupuna to be a healer.

Kaonohi Naturopathic Clinic clipping 49494105

When the Ka‘ōnohi Clinic opened on the corner of Castle and Kapāhulu streets in Honolulu in 1940, Dr. Ka‘ōnohi specialized in Hawaiian herb treatments, drugless medicine and bloodless surgery.  He was a pioneer in integrating western and traditional practices into his daily work. 

Dr. ‘Ōpūnui is also a pioneer: the first naturopathic doctor to serve as medical director for any Native Hawaiian Health Care System, and the first naturopath to become fully credentialed as a primary care physician in HMSA’s network of PCPs. His practice serves a bridge between western and traditional medicine.  He is licensed to assess, diagnose and treat disease like his medical counterparts, then is likely to offer more natural therapies to manage each patient’s illness while seeking out the root cause.

Among Dr. ‘Ōpūnui’s visions for Nā Pu‘uwai are to create and implement innovative programs that address the health needs of the community, and promote collaboration within the Native Hawaiian Health Care System and among health care providers, clinics and hospitals that serve Molokai and Lāna‘i.

Congratulations, Dr. ‘Ōpūnui, on your appointment!  As you honor your own kūpuna, we see you are also honoring the genealogy of Hawaiians in naturopathic medicine.


 # # #

More about Dr. Ka‘ōnohi here and in this video, and about the Ka‘ōnohi Awards

More about Dr. ‘Ōpūnui and his latest appointment.










Pin It

NHHCIA all logo banner


In these changing and challenging times, there’s nothing more important than taking care of your families and yourselves. We will make it through these times because of the aloha we have for one another.

Closing our offices at Papa Ola Lōkahi will better enable us to protect those we love and those we tend to so we that we are better able to serve our greater community.

The Papa Ola Lōkahi office in Kaka‘ako is closed.

Closed, however, most of our staff is working remotely, so you may anticipate a response.  To contact Papa Ola Lōkahi, please e-mail our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or leave a message at 808-597-6550.



The application cycle closed on March 15, 2020.  Applications are being processed and interviews are being scheduled via teleconference.  Mahalo to all applicants and your families for your understanding and flexibility.



All five Systems have cancelled community workshops, classes, support groups, and other outreach activities and gatherings until further notice.

Clinical services are cut back on all islands.  Across all locations, patients should call for pre-screening before entering so all patients and staff can be best protected from exposure.

  • Ho‘ōla Lāhui Hawai‘i. On Kaua‘i, COVID-19 testing is being done for current patients.
  • Ke Ola Mamo. On O‘ahu, urgent dental and lomilomi services are reduced but still available.
  • Hui No Ke Ola Pono. On Maui, closed to walk-in traffic.
  • Nā Pu‘uwai. Offices on Lāna‘i and Molokai.  Adult day care on Molokai is still open. Fitness center is closed.  Clinic is open to urgent care only.
  • Hui Mālama Ola Na ‘Ōiwi. On Hawai‘i Island, call before showing up for your appointment.



Papa Ola Lōkahi is sharing information about COVID-19 and the coronavirus that causes the illness, where to get help, and tips on how protecting ourselves, our families and our communities, and how to cope as we move forward.



Mahalo to all the clinicians, caregivers and support staff that are holding it down on the front line.  Mahalo to all the service providers, delivery people, food preparers, and those who are maintaining our safety and security throughout our islands. We are sending our aloha to our kūpuna and our keiki and to all at home caring for one another.

Wash your hands.  Stay informed. Avoid leaving home.  Check on one another.  Mālama kekahi i kekahi.

Pin It

CHUN HONDA 2014 2015 Alyssa Chun

Dr. Alyssa Ann Ka‘ihilani Chun-Honda is from Kāne‘ohe.  She is a pediatrician-in-residency and a recipient of the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship.  Dr. Chun-Honda reflects on her experiences during these challenging times.


During these times of COVID, life has surely changed. You can’t hang out with your family or friends. You can’t go hiking on some of the popular trails or enjoy time on the beach. Most of your time is spent in front of a screen on either Zoom or Facetime. Masks have become an everyday attire. Lines form outside of grocery stores with tape markers making sure customers stand six feet apart. For those of us in healthcare, these changes are also part of our everyday routine, but with a little twist depending on whether or not we are in the hospital.

My everyday routine was a little different, depending on the hospital I was working at. My temperature was scanned every day prior to entering the hospital or I was asked a series of questions such as Do you have a cough, shortness of breath, or fever? After passing the screening process, I was given a sticker to wear on my badge. I had to wear a surgical mask at all times regardless if I was in or out of a patient’s room.  

Once I was through the screening process, I would pass by the Emergency Department and some of our adult medicine colleagues and feel a sense of gratitude for them. They are dealing with a different severity of COVID as adults are much more affected. Luckily for Pediatrics, kids are not as impacted by COVID, although they still can get sick. Even though we were not seeing the same influx of admissions, PUIs or COVID positive patients, Pediatrics was still affected. Only 1 parent was allowed to be with the patient once admitted. If the patient was COVID positive, visitation was basically restricted. We had to question everything. I mean kids get sick all the time. They have runny noses or sniffles here and there. We would question things like: Do they have COVID or just your standard cold? Are these allergies? Most people in the community are asymptomatic, so does the patient we just admitted for a bad skin infection have COVID even though symptom free? Is the parent with them an asymptomatic carrier? Do we test when there’s a shortage? We were constantly questioning and learning about this novel virus.

Sometimes I felt a sense of guilt knowing how much our adult medicine colleagues or New York colleagues were facing. Or how much our interdisciplinary colleagues were affected. Registered nurses were putting themselves at higher risk as they have much more interaction with the patients. Same goes for respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and other first responders. Often more interactions than the doctor. So when people tell me thank you for what I do, I tell them thank you, but there are others that deserve more thanks.

Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about the risks associated with going to the hospital every day. There’s no such thing as true social distancing in the hospital. Yes, we wear masks all the time, don’t shake hands, always wash our hands or use sanitizer and try to keep our distance as able. We limit the number of providers entering the room. Try virtual rounding as able. However, we still meet new patients and parents every day. We spend time with other healthcare workers which might not be the same individual day in and day out. Different residents come in as the rotation and shift changes. Different RNs, RTs, OTs, PTs come in depending on the shift. There are many interactions. The risk is high, so when I went home, my clothes went straight into the washer, and I showered immediately. No interaction at home until these things were done. I did not want to risk any transmission to my husband.

So I guess the thanks I get from others do get some sort of validation. Does the increased risk make me regret my profession? Not at all. If anything, I feel a stronger calling to serve. This is what I signed up for. Well, not a pandemic but to help others when it comes to health. With everything that has happened with COVID, my identity to serve has not changed. Only the process on how I do it.

So with these times of COVID, life sure has changed. It may not go back to what it was before or may take a while before it ever does. But all we can do is continue to move forward. One healthcare worker at a time. One parent at a time. One family member or friend at a time. One day at a time.

~ Alyssa Chun-Honda, MD

Pin It

CENSUS 2020 sponsorship flyer


* * * POSTPONED * * *

Census 2020 Event Sponsorship Information

Targeting Native Hawaiian Communities across Hawai‘i and the Continent

Welina mai kākou!

As we plan for Census 2020 and take an account of Native Hawaiians across the United States, Papa Ola Lōkahi (POL) will be providing a one-time sponsorship in the amount of $200.00 (two hundred dollars) that may be used to support activities and/or events:

  • That support Native Hawaiians and their communities to complete census gathering work;
  • That MUST occur between April 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020.

To be eligible to receive these funds:

  • Your organization must have a 501(c)3 designation or fiscal sponsor;
  • Your organization must be in good standing with the State of Hawai‘i (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs)

If your organization is interested and meets the above eligibility criteria, the next steps are:

  1. Submit application via link (or click on image above) or complete and return the attached application form.
  2. First come, first served!
  3. Please submit a final report within two-weeks (2) after your activity/event. The report form is included for your convenience. Please include photos.  A picture can be worth a thousand words.

Again, mahalo for your interest and participation in this engagement opportunity.  Be creative!  The Census 2020, critical for counting Native Hawaiians, will benefit our communities, which will lead to overall improvement of Hawaiian health and well-being. Papa OlaLōkahi looks forward to a continued collaborative partnership.

He aloha nō,

SAD signature image

Sheri Daniels, EdD

Executive Director – Papa Ola Lōkahi

Pin It

Stay Informed

Subscribe to our mailing list



Real time web analytics, Heat map tracking