December 1, 2014

Case Report from the Field: Integrating Hawaiian and Western Healing Arts in Papakolea

Adrienne Y. Dillard, MSW, LSW; Dee-Ann L. Carpenter, MD; Ethel F. Mau, LMT; and B. Puni Kekauoha

Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health

Papakolea, the only Native Hawaiian (NH) homestead community located in urban Honolulu, has one of the highest proportions of NHs living in a single geographic area. Despite prior attempts dating back to the 1920s to improve the health of the community, many health disparities remain within the Papakolea community. This is the story of how the Papakolea community decided to confront the health of its community by integrating Hawaiian and Western healing arts. The purpose of this “Case Report from the Field” is to share the journey the Papakolea community started back in 1992 to build capacity within their own community by forming its first 501c3 community based non-profit organization entitled Kula no na Po‘e Hawai‘i (referred to as Kula). Through Kula, a unique traditional healing training program was started called Na Lomilomi O Papakolea (NLOP). NLOP became the first self-sustaining health program for training lomilomi practitioners (traditional NH therapeutic massage) in the Papakolea community. This case report describes how lomilomi practitioners and medical practitioners began sharing their skills and expertise to heal their clients and in the process began to heal the community itself. The purpose of this paper is to describe their journey with the intent of sharing how one dedicated group of people has been successful in healing their community and is now on the road to better health and sustained well being by working together.

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