WAILUA — Toni Bandallian of Kona had a dream of touching the sand again.
Bandallian, a resident of the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, had it fulfilled Tuesday.
“Just because you’re in the hospital, doesn’t mean you have to stay there,” said Josie Pablo, hospital recreation director.
Mahelona Hospital was joined by five residents of the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in celebrating the end of summer during its final beach outing of the year at the Lydgate Park.
The outing is made possible by volunteer helping the kupuna enjoy the beach and a picnic lunch, Pablo said.
“Getting out of the hospital environment is good,” said Betty Matsumura, past president of the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary. “It’s good for the residents to have a change of scenery, and it’s even better because family members can come along, too.”
Nursing students from the Okinawa Prefectural College began helping with the program more than 10 years ago, coordinated through the Kauai Community College Nursing program.
Shar Ono, KCC nursing program director, said the students come each year for a two-week tour with the goal of looking at healthcare in Hawaii and America.
The tour gives the students, this year numbering 19, site visits to Kauai’s health care facilities, including the Regency at Puakea and Friendship House.
“This is the only way to learn,” said Brian Yamamoto, a Kauai Community College instructor. “When the students see the joy in the residents’ eyes, they realize how much value a small visit means to them.”