Question: We noticed that large blue signs recently went up on Moanalua Road, by the Tripler Hospital offramp, saying, "Spark M. Matsunaga/take Tripler exit." Is that a museum or name of a road? We checked with other people in the area and they don't know either.
Answer: Tripler Army Medical Center spokeswoman Margaret Tippy was happy to have an opportunity to answer your question, saying the new signs also had generated calls to Tripler.
The signs refer to the Spark M. Matsunaga Veterans Affairs Medical and Regional Office Center, or VAMROC, for short, which is located on Tripler Hill.
It is not the new name of Tripler Army Medical Center, which is a separate entity and which continues to operate out of its distinctive pink building and includes a warehouse and clinical investigation building.
"Just as there are doctors office buildings that are called 'medical centers,' the VAMROC has the name 'medical center' within its title, but without a building per se," Tippy said.
VAMROC's administrative offices are housed within a newly renovated wing of Tripler Medical Center, while its Inpatient Psychiatric Ward and Outpatient Therapy are in another wing.
Its Center for Aging has been open on the grounds of Tripler since 1997, while an Acute Care Clinic is under construction, to be completed next spring. All outpatient clinical services now are provided in the federal building downtown.
Changing the blue-and-white signs are a possibility because of the confusion, Tippy said, but no decision has yet been made. Maj. Gen. Nancy R. Adams, commander of the Pacific Regional Medical Command and Tripler, and David Burge, director of VAMROC, are discussing "how we can jointly represent the identity of both facilities," she said.
Meanwhile, just FYI: the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, not Tripler, owns the officers' club, the gas station, the physical fitness center, the pool, the roads, the parking lots and the housing area atop Tripler Hill, Tippy said.
Q: With all the concern about identity theft, when is the state going to eliminate Social Security numbers on driver's licenses?
A: Not until January 2001. Beginning that month, drivers can apply for licenses that carry computer-generated random numbers.
However, beginning July 1, applicants had the choice of putting randomly selected numbers on their state ID cards or using their Social Security numbers, which had been required in the past.
MahaloAbout 4:30-5 p.m. Monday, July 12, my car ran over a sharp object on the H-1 freeway, Koko Head-bound, near the offramp to Kahala Mall, resulting in a flat tire.
I wish to thank HPD officers Jay Rosalza and Dennis Higa for their assistance and also for calling my daughter to let her know what happened. Special thanks to an anonymous passer-by who stopped to help before the officers arrived. He rode a moped, had red hair and was wearing a red safety vest. -- Jean Yamasaki
MahaloTo the gentleman who lives near McCully Longs and brings blossoms to the store to pass out to all. The ginger blossom you gave me blessed me with its fragrance all afternoon. Your kindness and aloha and sharing reminded me again why I shall always call Hawaii home. -- J.W.
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