Oral Health

There are nearly 200,000 people in Hawaii with unmet dental needs, more than twice the number who lack medical insurance. Moreover, almost half of all the people in Hawaii who earned less than $25,000 a year did not visit a dentist during the calendar year. As a result of this tremendous unmet need, emergency rooms are often filled with patients whose primary condition is related to their oral health. In the last six years alone, these emergency room visits related to oral health rose by almost 70%. In total, preventable hospital costs related to emergency room use and inpatient admissions cost the health care system in Hawaii over $17 million.

HPCA and its partners support restoration of adult dental benefits in Medicaid, which would save the health care system millions each year and contribute to improved overall health for vulnerable populations. In the interim, HPCA supports the work of health centers by regularly convening and facilitating technical assistance among dental professionals across the state.

For more information about our work with dental professionals at Community Health Centers, please contact our COO, Kathy Suzuki-Kitagawa.


Effective outreach is critical for ensuring that patients are able to determine their eligibility for and access to state, federal, and community programs. Complex requirements, paperwork, or language barriers often hinder the ability of patients to effectively use the services they need. HPCA provides comprehensive training and support for Outreach Workers and Outstationed Eligibility Workers, ensuring that these vital advocates have the skills, knowledge, and tools they need.
Outreach workers are trained:

  • to provide accurate information, competent enrollment assistance, and follow-up assistance for various DHS programs;
  • to refer clients to appropriate providers and for additional services where necessary, including referral to health care providers that offer sliding-fee scale or free care to low-income clients not qualified for public health insurance or assistance;
  • to make outreach and enrollment services available during non-traditional hours as appropriate to the population served.

For more information on the Outreach program, please contact HPCA’s Outreach and Community Health Worker Director, Napualani Spock