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PBTRC In Palau, Collaboration With AHEC & Participating In PIPCA

A Successful Trip To Palau

PBTRC Team with Minister of Health and Palau MOHHS and CHC Team

The PBTRC Team composed of Christina Higa (Co-Director), Ginger Porter, and Umerang Imetengel visited Palau in June 2023. They were able to meet with Minister of Health Gaafar Uherbelau and team to discuss updates on telehealth initiatives in Palau. They were also able to visit 3 Community Health Centers, including Southern Community Health Center located in the remote island of Peleliu State. During the site visit, an injured Japanese tourist sought care at the CHC and required language translation. The team assisted to provide translation services via telehealth with researchers from Kyushu University (TEMDEC). The PBTRC Team also introduced Dr. Toby Maurer, Dermatologist who was able to provide a CME on tele-dermatology and what she can offer. During a cultural exchange, the team was also able to meet former President of Palau Tommy Remengesau, Jr., former NEMO Coordinator Mr. Alonzo Kyota, and former Ministry of Education PEACESAT support technician Mr. Saburo Remoket.

PBTRC Team on the boat on their way to Remote Island of Peleliu to visit CHC site. They used the local raincoats – trash bags to keep dry!
Christina Higa, showing the Peleliu StateGovernor Dr. Emais Roberts (Former Minister of Health) the VTC Demo on the use of Gastroenterology equipment.
Ginger Porter, updating and connecting OWL System while Director Higa oversees the connection.
From Left to Right: Former Palau NEMO Coordinator Mr. Alonzo Kyota, Former Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., and PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa

The PBTRC team was also able to meet with several members of the U.S. Armed Forces Veterans Association of Palau as well as Lieutenant Colonel Amanda J. Owens, the Officer in Charge of the Oceania Engagement Team from the Embassy of the United States in Palau to discuss various activities and updates relating to Veterans Affair issues affecting the Veterans in Palau and other US Affiliated Pacific Islands.

Specifically, the PBTRC team’s outreach goals were to provide an overview on a Bill to expand Healthcare for veterans in the Freely Associated States (Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands) that had been re-introduced by Senator Schatz (along with Senators Hirono, Murkowski, and Boozman) to the US Congress. This bill was aimed at expanding access to health care for vets in the three Freely Associated States. Further, the PBTRC team wanted to share with the veterans information and get feedback from the veterans about a potential project with VAPIHC to understand the health equity issues for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island veterans. The PBTRC gained very helpful insight on issues that Palauan Veterans face after separation from the Military, moving home, and the challenges that they face in accessing veteran health care services.

Collaborating With AHEC

In August 2023, PBTRC Project Coordinator Umerang Imetengel was able to make another trip to Palau to provide support to the Palau Ministry of Health and Human Services (MOHHS) and Community Health Centers (CHC) with connecting, updating, and training staff on the use of the video conferencing system OWL Labs. The PBTRC team collaborated with Area Health Education Center(AHEC) medical students on this activity. The team was able to set up three (3)sites, provided training, and a demonstration on the use of the system as well as a Continuing Education on Telehealth 101 to Palau CHC nurses and staff.

AHEC Medical Student Thomas Clausen, PBTRC ProjectCoordinator Umerang Imetengel and Palau CHC team at the Eastern CommunityHealth Center.
Can you hear me now? AHEC students and CHC staff trying to find a signal!
Telehealth 101 and VTC Demo – Participants in various parts of Palau, UH, and Hilo.

PIPCA Board Meeting Roundtable Participation

The PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa and Project Coordinator Umerang Imetengel was able to participate in the Pacific Island Primary Care Association (PIPCA) Board meeting’s last day of roundtable. The PBTRC team had the opportunity to meet and discuss the needs, updates, and future plans of thePacific Regions Community Health Centers. The PBTRC is excited to keep the momentum going and supporting the telehealth initiatives of the PIPCA members!

Palau CHC Executive Director Edolem Ikerdeu and PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa
Chuuk CHC Chief Executive Officer Inou Shomour and PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa
Palau’s Minister of Health Gaafar Uherbelau and PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa and PBTRC Coordinator Umerang Imetengel
Pacific Island Primary Care Association Executive Director Arielle Buyum and PBTRC Co-Director Christina Higa and Project Coordinator Umerang Imetengel

Mahalo to all of our supporters and partners who work with us to advance telehealth for all. We appreciate you and all your hard work.