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Hawai‘i Keiki: Healthy and Ready to Learn

Hawai‘i Keiki is a partnership between UH Mānoa Nursing and the Hawai‘i Department of Education and sits at the intersection of education and health to support the DOE to achieve student, school, and system success. 
The program is enhancing and building school based health services that screen for treatable health conditions; provide referral to primary health care and patient centered medical home services; prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems; and provide emergency care for illness or injury.
Students succeed academically when they come to school ready to learn. The evidence is clear that:
  • Hunger, chronic illness, or physical and emotional abuse, can lead to poor school performance.
  • Health-risk behaviors such as substance use, violence, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to academic failure and often affect students' school attendance, grades, test scores, and ability to pay attention in class.
  • School based health programs decrease dismissal from school and are associated with better attendance.


Hawaii Keiki: The Impact of School Nurses from UH Manoa Nursing on Vimeo.



The program goal is to keep our keiki healthy and ready to learn by providing access to school nursing services in Hawaiʻi’s public schools. The program is designed to improve access and quality of health services in the school by coordinating and expanding existing efforts of the partners and community resources. 
A goal of Hawaiʻi’s public schools is to provide the best learning experience possible to prepare students for higher education. A goal of UH Mānoa Nursing is to improve the health of Hawaiʻi through education of nurses and service to the people of the state. Together, we are improving health of our Keiki and building student, school and system success to create a bright future for the state.

Timeline 2014 to 2019


Phase 1


  • Lay foundation to build school based health services via UH Mānoa Nursing & DOE partnership  - met
  • Pilot MS RNs in 5 participating complex areas - met
  • Collect baseline data, school health profiles, integrate school health planning, and work toward coordinating vision/hearing screening efforts - met
  • Secure funding and support for phase 2 - met

Phase 2


  • Continue pilot of MS RNs to designated complex areas with greatest need and partnership support potential - met
  • Develop the model framework for a statewide school health nursing program - met
  • Develop a business plan for sustainability and scalability - met
  • Support expansion of the State Medicaid Plan to maximize federal resources for cost recovery – not met 
  • Pilot Medicaid billing in Complex Areas  with an APRN – met
  • Revise the SHA and First Aid Manuals - met

Phase 3


  • Implement the program in the 15 Complex Areas statewide using APRNs , RNs, and SHAs with web based health room management software linked to Infinite Campus
  • Collaborate with School Health Section/OCISS for orientation of SHAs to new Manuals
  • Conduct assessment of phases 1 and 2 to inform developing the comprehensive 5-year program evaluation plan
  • Provide support to the DOE School Health Section – OCISS and collocate program staff
Overall Outcome
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Leadership Team


Benjamin Kilinski, MSN, APRN-Rx, CPNP-PC, NCSN*
Executive Operations Director
Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Webster Hall 445
Phone: (808) 271-0362
*National Certified School Nurse (NCSN)

Benjamin Kilinski is the Executive Operations Director at Hawai`i Keiki. He is the primary liasion with the Department of Education School Health Unit, UH Manoa Nursing, the Department of Health and community partners. He oversees work coordination between the program and DOE School Health Assistants, and mentors O'ahu APRNs.

Ben has been a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner since 2012, specializing in primary care with national board certification through the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. In addition to advanced practice nursing, his experience as a Registered Nurse includes 4 years of pediatric and emergency nursing at a premier pediatric hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Prior to his career in nursing, Ben spent nearly a decade working through United Way Organizations to provide direct services for homeless youth and children with developmental disabilities. He received both his undergraduate (2009) and graduate (2012) nursing education at New York University College of Nursing in New York City.

Before joining the Hawaii Keiki program in 2015, he worked for a Federally Qualified Health Center serving as the Lead Provider of a School Based Health Center in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. As a participant both in CNCS's Americorps and HRSA's National Health Service Corps, Ben has demonstrated a consistent commitment to vulnerable populations. Ben has served as adjunct faculty with NYU College of Nursing, is a fellow of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and maintains membership in Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Wendy Suetsugu, JD, MSN, RN
Clinical Practice Operations Director
Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Webster Hall 217
Phone: (808) 286-8795

Wendy Suetsugu is the Clinical Practice Operations Director at Hawai`i Keiki. She is responsible for clinical operations, legal affairs, human resources, information systems, billing and purchasing, national certification and credentialing, and implementation and management of School HealthOffice Anywhere.

Wendy received her BSN at Seattle University, MSN in Nursing Administration at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, and her JD at the University of Hawai`i, William S. Richardson School of Law.  Wendy is an experienced RN with prior nursing experience in obstetrics and surgery at Kapi`olani Medical Center for Women and Children.  She was also a nursing home surveyor in the State of Washington and served as a clinical instructor for maternal child health at the University of Hawai`i, School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene.  

For several years, Wendy served as the director of clinical operations at the University of Hawai`i John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health, as well as serving as the prior executive director at the Hawai`i State Center for Nursing. Wendy also practices law, handling medical malpractice cases through representation of healthcare providers in the State of Hawai`i.

Sarah Mercado, BSN, RN, NCSN*
Program Coordinator
Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Webster Hall 216
Phone: (808) 465-5713
*National Certified School Nurse (NCSN)

Sarah Mercado is the Program Coordinator at Hawai`i Keiki. She is the liaison to University Health Partners and coordinates administrative, purchasing and travel requests. She provides on-call RN services supporting Oahu Hawai`i Keiki nurses.

Sarah received her BSN from Azusa Pacific University, School of Nursing in Southern California. She then attended California State University, Fullerton where she completed coursework to obtain her School Nurse Services Credential through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Before joining Hawai`i Keiki, Sarah worked as a Consultant Nurse for both Bonita and Duarte Unified School Districts in California where she assisted with state mandated screenings and assessments and provided direct student care. She also served as the School/District Nurse for Lake Elsinore and Duarte Unified School Districts where she promoted optimal health of school-age children to enhance education by coordinating care for students at multiple school sites. Sarah is committed to school health and maintains active memberships with the National Association of School Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. 

Katherine Finn Davis, PhD, APRN, CPNP
Quality Director
Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Webster Hall 410
Phone: (808) 956-5421
Katherine Finn Davis is the Quality Director at Hawai`i Keiki.  In this role, she coordinates program evaluation and special projects.
She received her BSN at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MSN and PhD at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  Katherine is a board certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and has experience in both primary care and Otolaryngology. 
Before joining the Hawaii Keiki program, Katherine worked as a clinical nurse researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where she worked with nurses and nurse practitioners to examine clinical questions from the research, evidence based practice, and quality improvement aspects.  She has published in numerous scholarly articles along with both research and quality improvement studies.  She is an active member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and is a fellow of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
Lindsey A. Zemeir, MPH, CPH
Data Analyst
Hawai'i Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Webster Hall 216
Phone: (808) 956-5388
Lindsey Zemeir is the Data Analyst at Hawai'i Keiki. She is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and reporting Hawai'i Keiki program data.
She received her BA and MPH at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also Certified in Public Health.
Before joining the Hawai'i Keiki program, Lindsey worked as a Program Evaluator for Maryland SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) where she developed multiple data collection tools and analyzed and reported program data to local, state, and federal stakeholders. She is an active member of the American Evaluation Association.

Dr. Robert H. Pantell, MD, FAAP
Pediatrician Consultant
Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn
Medical Director, Kapiolani Child Protection Center
General Program Information

Hawaiʻi Keiki: Healthy & Ready to Learn 
2528 McCarthy Mall, Webster 402
Honolulu, HI 96822
Phone: 808-956-8522
Fax: (808) 956-3257



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