$6.6M for Mahelona projects

KAPAA — During a joint proclamation celebrating the centennial of Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Wednesday at the Moikeha Building, Kauai County Councilmember Ross Kagawa congratulated the Kapaa hospital and its staff for reaching the milestone, but wondered about what it would take to continue for the next 100 years.

The main hospital building was dedicated in 1951, said John Pimental, the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation facilities director for the Kauai Region, which includes both the Mahelona, the West Kauai Medical Center and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital.

“While the building itself is not 100 years old, there are a lot of things that need upgrading,” Pimental said. “We just completed a $3 million waterline replacement project that not only serves the Mahelona Hospital, but extends to service the senior housing project and the medical clinic.”

The completed waterline project also yielded unexpected benefits when members of the military Innovative Readiness Training project working on the Kawaihau spur dropped in to help the hospital with various projects in time for the hospital’s anniversary luau today.

“They’re using our water and part of the property to store stuff,” said Peter Klune, the HHSC Kauai Region CEO. “As they near the end of the project, they surprised us by dropping in to offer their services. They are cleaning the exterior and will be painting the front of the building with paint John will pick up later today.”

Klune said Mahelona is in the middle of a capital improvement campaign which includes not only the waterline replacement, but a new resident recreation room, resident room and bathroom remodeling, parking lot resurfacing, exterior door replacement, emergency generator replacement, renovation of the Psychiatric Unit, a remodel of the resident nurse station, a new nurse call system and bed replacements.

These projects are part of a $6.6 million package secured and appropriated by the state. A similar package was secured for KVMH.

“Did you notice that when you drove in, there wasn’t that big hole in the driveway?” Klune asked. “Some of these CIP jobs are done. Others are in progress, and others are still waiting to get started. We’re working on remodeling the residents’ rooms and the nurses’ station. At the risk of embarrassing them, look at them — they’re working on Costco tables because the termites ate away the original cabinets. Work on the psych unit and the nurses station will start dsoon. John has been busy.”

Klune said it appears to be a flurry of work being done because a lot of the projects just got started.

As an example, the waterline replacement project had funds appropriated for several years ago, but never got started.

“There are several projects like that,” Klune said. “The funds were already set aside, but the work never got started. The waterline project started it all. We worked on that and, once completed, it set the stage for the next project. If the funds for a project are appropriated and secured, we need to be quicker in getting the work done so our patients and residents can enjoy the benefits.”

Some of the non-CIP funded projects include the re-opening of the courtyard, a popular gathering place for the residents, their families and the community.

“Lawyers got in the way,” Klune said. “But John and the grounds crew did a lot of work clearing out old material, some of which posed hazards to the residents, cutting back tree roots, and filling in holes left by drainage systems. Look at it now. It has never looked so good — and just in time for the luau.”

Klune pointed out the flooring and some of the old pipes lining the ceiling.

“The flooring might not be 100 years old,” he said. “But they might contain asbestos. With the costs of asbestos abatement coming pretty close to the cost of a new facility, at what point do you draw the line? John also pointed out the pipes hanging from the buildings which have been ravaged by salt air. That’s our next problem area, he said.”

Of more immediate concern, Klune noticed the commemorative shirts being worn by the Mahelona Hospital staff to celebrate the proclamations.

“I need to get me one of these,” he said. “I thought they only had it in large sizes. I have been through a lot of hospitals, but these on Kauai leave me with an impression.”

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