Mahelona Hospital 90th anniversary starts with a bang

KAPA‘A — There was reason to celebrate yesterday at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, and the festivities show no sign of stopping.

The hospital kicked off its 90th anniversary with a potluck coffee hour and entertainment by dancers from the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center.

During the three months leading up to the anniversary, the hospital has planned 90 days of fun, said Josie Pablo, the hospital’s recreational therapist.

In addition, the anniversary coincides with National Nursing Home Week, which the hospital recognized by honoring its 10 nonagenarian residents and one centenarian, Hajime Morita.

Honorees include Hideko Koigawachi, 99; Carmen Darrigrandi, 97; Kamechiyo Kitajima, 97; Clauda Holtz, 94; Ruth Texeira, 93; Norio Furutani, 92; Charles Tanigawa, 92; Sadamu Tasaka, 92; Lillian Yamasaki, 92; and Margaret Yamaguchi, 91.

The month of June will see a beach outing at Lydgate Park and a special luncheon to show appreciation for the hospital’s volunteer staff. This will be supplemented by a food drive coordinated by the hospital’s employees association to support the Kaua‘i Food Bank.

Registered nurse Gloria Estrella, the hospital’s in-service coordinator, has engineered a trivia contest at the end of each week during the celebration period. Employees will be able to answer questions about the hospital’s unique history as well as current facts.

A carnival and cookout will highlight the July calendar with games and prizes for the long-term care residents from across Kaua‘i.

“This is going to be one of the times that we will be inviting and encouraging the other hospitals to come and visit us,” Pablo said.

August signals not only the end of summer but the biggest celebration. An admission day lu‘au and bon dance will culminate the extended festivities. That event also coincides with the long-term care’s end-of-summer beach outing to Lydgate Park, made possible with the help of visiting student nurses from Okinawa.

Initiated several years ago by the Kaua‘i Community College nursing program, the annual outing has become a tradition for both the hospital and KCC. The bon dance, which started as a way for the hospital’s long-term care residents to enjoy a slice of Kaua‘i life, was moved to coincide with the beach outing so the Okinawa students could see how the community has adopted the tradition into its lifestyle.

“While these events are normally a part of Mahelona Hospital’s summer calendar, turning 90 is a cause for added celebration to commemorate the past as well as look forward to a future of providing health care services to the community,” Pablo said.

The hospital was established in 1917 by Emma Kauikehaulani Napoleon Mahelona Wilcox in memory of her son Samuel, who died of tuberculosis at 28.

During its 90-year history, the hospital has evolved from a tuberculosis center to a critical access hospital with long-term care and behavioral health units, an emergency room, and acute and outpatient services, according to a press release. One of two federally qualified health care clinics on the island, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i, is located on the hospital’s campus.

Jaime Pablo is currently in the process of designing a commemorative 90th anniversary T-shirt, which will be sold by the Mahelona Employees Association.

For more information, call Josie Pablo at 823-4138.

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