A North Kohala hometown girl with a history in Healthcare – Regina Afaga Gantala’s first memory goes back to her childhood when she came to the dispensary for “shots”. Regina was born at Kohala Hospital, the daughter of employees of Kohala Sugar Company. Healthcare for employees and their families was provided at the dispensary that also included a pharmacy. Home remedies were the standard of care for most families, but they came to the dispensary for immunizations and harder to treat cases.
Life changed for Regina and Kohala residents in 1973 with the closure of the plantation. With high unemployment many retired or moved away. The dispensary was closed. Dr. Morin established a private practice in the “old dispensary” and brought in new physicians – Dr. Garcia and later Dr. Sonnenschein.
After High School, Regina moved to Oahu to attend Canon Business College. She returned home and worked at Kamehameha Pharmacy.Dr. Sonnenschein was now the owner and physician at the “old dispensary”, the Kohala Family Health Center…when Regina returned to this clinic of her childhood in 2000. This time to work – as a receptionist, billing clerk and office manager.
New challenges came again for primary healthcare in North Kohala in 2006 when private practice physicians announced retirement. At the request of area residents, Hamakua Health Center expanded their service area to include North Kohala and acquired the private practice of Dr. Sylvia Sonnenschein .
Today, Regina Gantala is the Clinic Operations Manager of Kohala Family Health Center (KFHC). She has seen many changes in her community and in healthcare in the past 50 years, but some things remain the same. She is proud to say that the staff of Kohala Family Health Center “know and respect the patients they serve”. She sees that as a Federally Qualified Community Health Center, KFHC sees all people regardless of their ability to pay and provides a sliding fee scale for the uninsured based on income and family size.
We are happy that this young hometown girl still calls Kohala and “the dispensary” her home.