Urgent effort needed to save Kahuku Hospital
MANY OF US cannot agree more with your Nov. 16 editorial
that state and federal officials should find a way to keep the Kahuku Hospital open
It is simply unacceptable that Koolauloa/North Shore residents' access to health-care services should be so marginalized. Besides the residents, the hospital is needed by tourists, hotel guests and many city residents who have second homes in the area.
To be forced to drive about 30 miles in either direction to receive emergency services is ludicrous. In an emergency, minutes and seconds count. Without Kahuku Hospital, people needing care face an hour-long drive to the nearest facilities at Wahiawa General Hospital or Castle Medical Center. When the two-lane highway is congested with traffic, the drive is even longer.
As a former Kahuku Hospital board member, I have always felt a tinge of regret that we did not successfully affiliate with the Kapiolani Women & Children's Health System. I recall the Kapiolani hospital administrator at that time soliciting the Kahuku board's support. Such affiliation would have cut purchasing costs and provided great support in other areas of care. Unfortunately, only a few of us voted in favor of it. We should have been more assertive, but we were much younger, a little intimidated and inexperienced in the local politics of the day.
It is also regrettable that the Estate of James Campbell sold the land under the Kahuku Hospital to Continental Pacific LLC in August. In the interest of the public, our legislators should have been helping to secure this facility for the public. Lawmakers could have negotiated with estate officers to donate the land to the hospital. Campbell Estate is not exactly poor, and there are great tax incentives to donate to such a worthy cause. The communities would have been happy to change the medical facility's name to Campbell Hospital to further ensure the legacy of James Campbell.
In addition, I'm embarrassed to admit that I did not know the names of the current Kahuku Hospital CEO or the Board of Directors until the announcement about the hospital's closing was made on Nov. 14. It's rather difficult for residents to support and rally around the hospital if residents are unfamiliar with the people who run it. Furthermore, for the Kahuku Hospital administrators to make the decision to close the hospital without prior widespread community dialogue is a major disappointment.
We also question why the "little trailer clinic" across the Kahuku Hospital (Koolauloa Community Health and Wellness Center) could receive $600,000 capital funding from the Legislature while the established Kahuku Hospital is struggling for support from the same body.
Despite many unanswered questions, we can all agree on a common cause. No finger-pointing is needed. It's now imperative that our communities come together to ensure access to basic emergency health care for our people. We call upon our state and federal representatives to roll up their sleeves and get to work to provide an emergency and trauma unit at the Kahuku Hospital. We call upon our North Shore and Koolauloa neighborhood boards to hold a public hearing to begin widespread community dialogue on this critical issue. Kahuku Hospital is dying, and we need a transfusion of new blood, new energy and new efforts to keep it alive.
Choon James of Laie is a former Kahuku Hospital board member. Two of her children were born at Kahuku Hospital.