Mahelona turns 100

KAPAA — A big celebration Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.

“Mahelona Hospital is 100 years old,” said Josie Pablo, the recreation director. “We have come a long way and helped countless numbers of people over the years. This is a reason to celebrate as we look ahead to the future.”

There is a series of special activities planned for the residents and staff starting Monday leading to the Saturday celebration in the hospital’s courtyard starting at 6 p.m., Pablo said.

“This celebration is open to the public,” Pablo said. “We even have our First Lady, Mrs. Dawn Amano-Ige, coming to celebrate with us.”

Monday, the hospital will host a mini carnival with games and prizes outside the auditorium area starting at 9:30 a.m., with everyone encouraged to follow the “Clown Day” theme.

Tuesday, a Stew Cook-Off will highlight the day for the staff, who are encouraged to don Western attire.

On Wednesday, the Kauai County Council and Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. are scheduled to issue proclamations celebrating the hospital’s anniversary at the Moikeha Building rotunda area, with attendees being requested to wear their commemorative 100th birthday Mahelona shirts.

Marilyn’s ukulele group will entertain on Thursday while the hospital hosts its Best Dessert Contest amid the theme of Hat Day.

Dennis Apilado and Friends will provide entertainment at the special luau for the Mahelona Hospital residents Friday during Aloha Attire Day, which starts at 10 a.m. at the courtyard.

More food, entertainment, an auction and more will fill the courtyard Saturday to culminate the week-long celebration.

The Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital was one of the first hospitals on Kauai, founded in 1917 by the Planter’s Association as a memorial to Samuel Mahelona, the son of Emma Kauikeolani Napoleon Mahelona Wilcox, the wife of Albert Wilcox, according to the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

Samuel Mahelona died of tuberculosis at a young age. The hospital was designed to serve tuberculosis patients on Kauai.

The hospital grew over the years with the addition of more buildings to accommodate an increasing number of patients and services. When antibiotics established a cure for tuberculosis in the 1950s and 1960s, the hospital started focusing on long-term care needs and began admitting patients with acute mental illness.

A separate psychiatric unit was opened in 1983, and in 1996, SMMH became part of the Kauai Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.

In 2004, the Kauai Community Health Clinic rented facilities on the Kapaa campus to assist in serving primary-care medical and dental needs of the uninsured and underinsured.

The opening of the emergency room in December 2005 marked the start of Mahelona becoming East Kauai’s critical access hospital with 24-hour emergency services and five acute-care beds.


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