Orchids enhance history of Mahelona

KAPA‘A — A local floral group gave back to the community this weekend through a service project at a Kapa‘a hospital.

Josie Pablo, activities director at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, said the Kaua‘i Orchid Society brought over a supply of orchid plants Saturday to place in trees lining the hospital’s courtyard.

“The orchid plants are going to love this new home,” said KOS member Sandy Jacob, who got help from her husband Sid. “We don’t have trees this big at home so we can’t do it.”

KOS members use one of the hospital’s rooms for their meetings three or four times a year, Pablo said. “This way, they said they can give back to the hospital.”

There was no shortage of volunteers as residents of the hospital’s long-term care unit crowded the KOS group who explained about the care of the plants at their new home.

“This is a beautiful day for doing this,” said Gary Henderson, KOS president. “The hospital has an interesting history and is the oldest hospital on Kaua‘i.”

Henderson noted the hospital was built in 1917, the year Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, died. The hospital will celebrate its 95th anniversary soon.

“Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital has a long and very interesting history of caring for the people of Kaua‘i,” Henderson said. “Today, the KOS is making a small but significant contribution to its history.”

Sam Mahelona, who died at age 31 of tuberculosis, was the former husband of Mrs. Albert (Emma) Wilcox. The hospital was a sanatorium, or a facility for the treatment of tuberculosis, and farm until the 1950s.

As a farm, it produced and sold “Hospital Grade” milk where both the cows and milkers were tested for TB, Henderson said. Bottle caps from that era are now collectors’ items.

Currently, the hospital serves as a long-term care nursing home for some of Kaua‘i’s oldest citizens, including one who is more than 100 years old and 10 who are more than 90 years old.

Plants were primarily supplied by Allen Yamada of Yamada Nursery, David Neifert of Hanalei Orchids, Neill Sams of Orchid Alley, and Kaua‘i Orchids, Henderson said, adding that some of the other KOS members also supplied plants and bromeliads for the project.


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