Lisa Rantz, Executive Director of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation was selected as our 2022 ATHENA Leadership Award recipient and recognized during the Chamber’s recent ATHENA Award and Installation of Officers and Directors dinner event.

In true ATHENA form, Lisa has demonstrated excellence, creativity and initiative in her position at the Foundation and has used her background in teaching and experience in program implementation to assess the healthcare needs of our community and help grow the Foundation’s outreach and program efforts.

She researched and gained the knowledge required to support the healthcare infrastructure necessary to keep the physicians graduating from the Hawai‘i Island Family Medicine Residency program on our island to provide care for our community. In collaboration with the University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine, Lisa brought the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program/grant to Hawai‘i Island. The AHEC program provides training, mentoring, clinical rotation support, housing and transportation for health care professions students on rural rotation in an effort to get them to stay and practice here. The program has also been successful in supporting more than 1,800 students (9th grade through graduate medical education) across Hawai‘i Island with training and certifications needed to enter a health career as well as support to build student resumes, interview skills and college essays and scholarship applications.

Continuing her focus and efforts on healthcare, Lisa was able to obtain county-wide Health Professions Shortage Area (HPSA) Designations for all counties within the state in collaboration with the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health. The HPSA provides a 10% bonus payment to healthcare providers on all direct billed Medicare services; this bonus payment allowed our solo and small practice providers to stay in business during the COVID pandemic.

Her most recent project is a comprehensive health needs assessment called “Access to Care” in collaboration with Community First. Access to Care seeks to garner the community and provider voice when it comes to what is really happening in our rural areas with accessing health care services when needed and identify what supports are needed to bring more resources not only to Hawaii Island, but also to the other neighbor islands. The project is set to start working groups to develop solutions, collaborations and systems level change to leverage resources, inform policy, and reform tax policy to make Hawai‘i a place where our kamaaina can thrive, be healthy and make and living wage with access to healthcare services.

Lisa has done a tremendous job in outreaching to at risk and under-served youth and families as part of the HMC Foundation’s Pre-Health Career Corps program which provides awareness, training, and guidance on the various health careers available and what they need to do to work toward entering that career choice.

Over the past several years, she has empowered young women to enter STEM careers traditionally occupied by men and many of these young ladies are now completing college and entering the workforce. Lisa mentors young ladies and provides internship and volunteering opportunities at HMC Foundation as well as coordinating opportunities with local employers that are a good fit or of interest to the young women she mentors. She also mentors women who have experienced barriers to employment helping them with resume writing, interview skills and confidence building to help move them forward in a positive direction.

Lisa is active within a number of non-profit and civic organizations across Hawaii Island and the state including the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Hilo Women’s Club, Hawaii State Rural Health Association and many more. She was recognized as the 2020 Small Business Administration Small Business Advocate of the Year, Pacific Business News: Executive Spotlight and has contributed to many publications and news articles relating to health care across Hawai‘i Island and the state.

ATHENA Award Recipients past and present: (front: Irene Nagao, Sharon Scheele, Lisa Rantz and Lani Kahawai‘i. Middle: Janice Higashi and Phoebe Lambeth. Back: Nancy Cabral, Brandee Menino and Dr. Lynda Dolan.