Friday, March 23, 2001

Kaiser gets
approval for new
clinic in Waipio

The $9 million facility is
expected to open in 2003

By Lyn Danninger

The state Health Planning and Development Agency yesterday approved a plan by Hawaii's largest health maintenance organization, Kaiser Permanente, to relocate its Punawai Clinic in Waipahu to the Waipio Gentry Business Park.

The new facility, just off the H2 freeway at Ka Uka Boulevard, will cost $9 million and be built about five miles away from the current clinic.

"We hope to begin construction by the end of this year and be open sometime in the first quarter of 2003," said Kaiser spokeswoman Jan Kagehiro.

Punawai clinic now serves around 26,000 Kaiser members, Kagehiro said.

The existing building has a number of structural problems, including a leaky roof and an outdated air-conditioning system. There is also limited parking and the clinic does not meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Kagehiro says the new Waipio facility will not only take care of those problems, but allow Kaiser to offer more to members who visit the clinic.

"The fact that it's going to be a bigger clinic means that we'll be able to provide a wider range of services to our members," she said.

Services currently offered at Punawai include family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, dermatology, ophthalmology and optometry.

In its application for state approval, Kaiser said possible new services at the clinic include behavioral health, physical and occupational services, as well as an after-hours clinic.

Kaiser had originally planned to build the new facility on the existing Punawai site. But the $10.8 million project was put on hold due to financial constraints within the company's parent organization.

Since that time, Kaiser revised its plan and selected the new Waipio site.

After the Waipio clinic is completed, the company plans to keep the Punawai clinic open temporarily to help ease the transition for members, Kagehiro said.

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