Ah Quon MacElrath: Always a Healthcare Advocate
As a Social Worker, Ah Quon was always interested in improving the lives of others, and that included improving healthcare. As a Social Worker for the ILWU, she strove to educate workers and their families on many issues such as the proper use of medicines and where and when to seek medical services. She even gave talks on women’s reproductive health issues and contraception.
As a union Social Worker, she also helped to bring Kaiser healthcare (now Kaiser Permanente) to the islands, a system of healthcare that was affordable and of great benefit, not only to union members, but also to thousands of island residents. She was a leader in the struggle that resulted in Hawaiʻi’s Prepaid Healthcare Act (PHC) in 1974. PHC mandated employer sponsored healthcare for all who work over 20 hours/ week.
Ah Quon believed in universal healthcare and healthcare as a right, not a privilege. After her retirement from the ILWU in 1981, she spent the next two decades constantly lobbying the Hawaiʻi State Legislature on many issues including general healthcare issues, disability benefits, and healthcare for the indigent and homeless. She laid the groundwork for landmark legislation on Death with Dignity in Hawaiʻi. Mahalo, Chris Conybeare Executive Producer