Saturday, January 3, 2004

The Queen's Medical Center celebrated the 168th anniversary of its co-founder Queen Emma's birth yesterday. A bust of Queen Emma was admired by Felice Tolentino, of the hospital's human resources department. The ceremony also commemorated the hospital's 145th anniversary.

Ceremony celebrates
Queen Emma’s birthday

The Queen's Medical Center
continues her legacy of caring today

The Queen's Medical Center celebrated the 168th birthday of its co-founder, Queen Emma, by remembering a remarkable woman who was moved to alleviate the suffering of the Hawaiian people.

At a ceremony yesterday also commemorating the 145th anniversary of the hospital, Dr. Gary Okamoto, president of the Queen's Health Systems, said the queen as a teenager witnessed the "pain and agony" of her people, whose population was "devastated by (foreign) diseases" in the 1800s.

Her hanai father, Dr. T.C.B. Rooke, a British-born physician, had a dispensary on the first floor of their home.

There, Queen Emma Kaleleonalani Rooke Kamehameha learned the "importance of health and healing" and felt she "absolutely had to establish a hospital," Okamoto said.

She and her husband, King Alexander Liholiho, actually went door to door soliciting funds from the public to open the hospital in 1859. The temporary hospital on Fort Street opened with 18 beds. Today the Punchbowl Street facility has 554 beds and has become the largest comprehensive medical center in the Pacific Basin.

Among her major accomplishments, Queen Emma helped to found and support St. Cross School in Lahaina and St. Andrew's Priory, and helped to build St. Andrew's Cathedral.

Okamoto said the hospital's plans for the coming year involve building a 8,700-square-foot women's health center in the fall, improving trauma, cardiovascular care and orthopedic surgery units, and rebuilding parts of the center to replace aging facilities.

(Future expansion also includes the Queen Emma Tower and a new physicians building, according to Queen's publicist Lynn Kenton.)

Okamoto said "critical decisions on long-term capital spending" will be made in the coming year that take into account "how ... we renew land assets willed by the queen to support the hospital." The focal point of property development will be the International Marketplace, which will undergo renovation from 2005 to 2007 to increase Queen Emma Foundation's revenues, he said.

Another celebration yesterday, "A Day of Honor for Emalani," was held by the Outrigger Waikiki, which was built on the queen's trust lands.


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