KAPAA — At what point in the life of a 100-year-old building does it become more economical to replace the building?
That is the question posed to Gov. David Ige, who stopped by the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital to visit the resident population of about 50, the hospital’s staff, and view work being done with the $6.6 million Capital Improvement Project appropriation by the Legislature.
“This is a special day,” said Josie Pablo, hospital recreation director. “Not only are we having orange rolls, we’re getting a visit from the big guy — not Peter Klune, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Kauai Region CEO, but from the governor himself. We have not been privileged to a visit by a governor in more than 30 years.”
Klune said the Mahelona Hospital celebrated its 100 anniversary in July, and the CIP appropriation covered a lot of improvements to the facility that started in 1917 by the Planter’s Association as a memorial to Samuel Mahelona, the son of Emma Kauikeolani Napoleon Mahelona Wilcox and Albert Wilcox who died of tuberculosis.
Initially designed to serve tuberculosis patients on Kauai, the facility grew into focusing on long term care needs when progress in medicine established a cure for tuberculosis.
The hospital started admitting patients with acute mental illness, and a separate psychiatric unit was opened in 1983.
In December 2005, Mahelona Hospital opened its emergency room providing East Kauai with 24-hour emergency services and acute care beds.
Ige toured the facility with some of the CIP work done, and others still in progress, including the new resident recreation room and the residents’ rooms and bathroom remodeling.
The completed phases included the renovation of the psychiatric unit, the resident nurse station where the furniture had succumbed to the ravages of insects and salt air, the emergency generator replacement and the resurfacing of the parking lot and bed replacements.
“I feel a lot better about coming to this place than I did a year, ago,” Klune said. “But there is still more work to be done.”
Wilma Chandler, a hospital volunteer, greeted Ige’s tour at the end.
“These (orange rolls) are for you,” she said. “It’s special, and created by our culinary department for you to enjoy on your way to the next appointment.”