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UCSF Health Expands Network of Care with 2 Hawaii Hospitals

UCSF Health is expanding its collaboration with two hospitals in Hawaii in support of a transformative philanthropic gift from Lynne and Marc Benioff that aims to increase access to high-quality health care for Hawaii residents.

The $150 million donation for Hawai’i Pacific Health and Hilo Medical Center, which the Benioffs announced this morning, intends to strengthen the state’s health care safety net, improve facilities and infrastructure, and address gaps in care caused by distance and a shortage of medical professionals. The entire funding is designated for the two hospitals, making it the largest charitable gift in Hawaii’s history.

An exterior shot of Hilo Medical Center.
Hilo Medical Center

As part of its vision, the contribution calls upon the hospitals to expand the existing specialty care relationship between UCSF Health and Hawai’i Pacific Health. UCSF will also work with the hospital systems to support other specialty areas in the future to help meet Hawaii’s needs.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to transform health care for the residents of Hawaii through both state-of-the-art facilities and top-quality primary and specialty care,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, president and chief executive officer of UCSF Health. “We are proud to be part of this collaboration to bring specialty care close to home through both of these medical centers, as well as to people living in remote areas of Hawaii with limited access to care.”

Broader close collaborations critical gaps in care

More than 500 patients travel from Hawaii to California each year for specialty care that is not available in their home state, including those seeking UCSF Health’s world-renowned expertise in neurology.

UCSF Health has worked for several years with Hawai’i Pacific Health to coordinate care for these patients and create a seamless experience for them. The new collaboration will expand that effort to Hilo Medical Center, on the island of Hawaii, to support a streamlined handoff across the three health systems for patients who require increasing levels of care, while also improving care at home for Hawaii residents.

Shelby Decosta, president of the UCSF Health Care Network and senior vice president of UCSF Health, will oversee the collaboration as part of the UCSF Health network. Decosta, who was born and raised in Hawaii, said he saw the importance of these collaborations in his own family.

“When my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she received most of her primary and specialty care on Oahu at Straub Medical Center,” Decosta said. “But twice a year, she would fly to San Francisco to see a UCSF specialist for care that wasn’t available at home. Now, patients like my mom are able to get that same level of care at Straub Hospital and don’t have to cross an ocean to receive it. UCSF’s neuroscience is one of the top-ranked programs in the world and it is outstanding to have this collaboration with Hawai’i Pacific Health to support the needs of Hawaii residents.”

Gift aims to transform health in Hawaii

The new gift builds on Benioff’s significant support for health care access, including more than 450 million in San Francisco and across the country over the past two decades. It brings the couple’s gifts in Hawaii to $250 million, adding to previous donations for Hilo Medical Center, medical helicopters and fire trucks, and state efforts to help recruit and retain health care professionals by alleviating their educational debts.

“Our philosophy has always been to give locally and to give through experts who deeply understand local needs, and we are so pleased to have found that with the wonderful, lifesaving teams at Hilo Medical Center, Hawai’i Pacific Health and UCSF Health,” said Marc and Lynne Benioff, whose personal philanthropic giving totals more than $1 billion. “We feel fortunate to have been part of the Hawaii community for many decades and to be able to support our ohana in this way. Nothing is more important than the health of our community and access to care for all who need it.”

A rendering of future expansions to Straub Medical Center
A rendering of expansions to Straub Medical Center in Honolulu, which will be renamed as the Straub Benioff Medical Center. Image courtesy of Hawaii Pacific Health Foundations

The new gift will provide $100 million to Hawai’i Pacific Health in a visionary renovation project to create a “health care campus of the future” at Straub Medical Center, in Honolulu, tripling the size of its current facility. The expansion of Hilo Medical Center is a unique public-private partnership, combining $50 million from the Benioffs to match a previous $50 million from the state. The donation will build out critical areas of care, including a state-of-the-art family birthing center, intensive care unit, behavioral health services and neurosurgery.

It will also support physician recruitment to address shortages in specialties such as oncology and neurology and establish new treatment relationships with the Hilo Medical Center and UCSF Health, including a program to provide 24/7 emergency neurological services.

In recognition of Lynne and Marc Benioff’s longstanding partnership and contributions to Hawaii health care, the facilities will be renamed the Hilo Benioff Medical Center and the Straub Benioff Medical Center.

“We have seen first-hand how Lynne and Marc Benioff’s generosity has transformed health care in San Francisco and our surrounding communities,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “UCSF is excited to be part of this new opportunity to create a world-class continuum of care in Hawaii and improve access to specialty care for Hawaii residents.”