Landowner would like hospital to stay open
Wanted: Someone to run the soon-to-be-closed Kahuku Hospital so that the North Shore will always have emergency care.
Representatives of developer Continental Pacific said yesterday that when they agreed to buy the land under the hospital from the Estate of James Campbell, they also agreed to assume a long-term lease with the facility.
Continental Pacific officials said they intend to honor that commitment despite the hospital board's announcement this week that they will close the 25-bed facility on Dec. 31 and file for bankruptcy.
Eric Morrison of Continental Pacific said one entity, the Koolauloa Community Health & Wellness Center in Kahuku, had already expressed an interest before the closure announcement.
"They approached us about three months ago. They were the ones who put on the table perhaps one day taking over operation of the emergency center," Morrison said.
Koolauloa CEO Chuck Braden could not be reached for comment.
Morrison said no other operator has expressed interest in Kahuku Hospital.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday he is pleased Continental Pacific has pledged to reserve the hospital for an emergency care center.
"We look forward to other parties coming to the table to ensure that the funding, the operation of this facility, will be secured," Hannemann said.
City Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, whose district includes Kahuku, said he will ask the Council to approve a resolution urging state and federal leaders to consider increased funding for Kahuku Hospital.
He said he hopes the resolution will focus attention on how critical the health center is and on the health care challenges that rural communities face.
State Rep. Michael Magaoay (D, Kaena Point-Kahuku) has scheduled a meeting next week with community leaders, the state health director, Gov. Linda Lingle's senior policy adviser, the city Emergency Services Department director and state Sen. Clayton Hee (D, Kaneohe-Kahuku) to discuss what to do about the loss of the hospital's emergency care.
"For us at the state, it would be big liability if that service is not provided," said Magaoay, who added he is still waiting to hear from the hospital's board what it plans to do when it shuts down.
The board voted Nov. 6 to shut down the hospital, citing $3 million in debt and little optimism the state will increase its funding support to help erase that debt.