WAILUA — If it takes a village to raise a child, then it must take a community to care for the kupuna.
Community cooperation helped 40 long term care clients from Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital enjoy a beach outing Tuesday at Lydgate Park.
The recreational outing, second of two planned by the hospital’s long term care staff, is an annual event that involves nearly all departments at the medical center as well as organizations and groups from the community.
“It seems like we’ve being doing this forever,” said Josie Pablo, who is credited with mobilizing the community effort.
Placido Valenciano, one of the hospital staffers, said he arrived in 1979, and has been involved in the activity since then, but he remembers that it was Pablo who got the community involved so more kupuna could enjoy the outing.
Up until then, the number of patients who were able to make the trip was limited by the number of hospital staff who could accompany them.
Pablo is quick to note that in addition to the hospital’s newly-acquired bus and an old van, the county’s Kaua‘i Bus provided four paratransit buses to help transport the patients to and from the beach park.
Once there, the county’s special wheelchair joined the hospital’s inventory to help move patients to and from the main pavilion to the water.
Alan Yamamoto, scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 83, worked alongside hospital staffers, helping patients get in and out of special floaters in the tide pool while six of his Scouts “chaperoned” the floaters once in the water.
Joining the corps of volunteers were members of the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary who are always present with helping hands and providing whatever needs to be done to ensure a successful event.
For the second year, nursing students from the Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing joined their instructors and instructors from the Kaua‘i Community College Nursing Department working with the Mahelona Hospital staffers at the beach.
Pablo said the outing dates have to be coordinated with the International Seminar being attended by the Okinawa students, but this is one of their trip highlights because of the hands-on nature of the event which allows the students an opportunity to use English, work with the elderly as well as work with hospital staffers towards the comfort of the patients.
Yamamoto said he tells the boys who are afraid to attend the event, “What if no one comes to help you when you become a kupuna?”