CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shriners held a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday for a new $73 million hospital. After assisting in the groundbreaking, Sen. Daniel Inouye put his footprints into concrete. CLICK FOR LARGE
Shriners start $73M hospital project
Sen. Inouye explains his own connection at the groundbreaking
Remembering a time 71 years ago, when he needed treatment for a compound fracture in his elbow, U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye recalled how doctors at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Honolulu did such a good job with his care, he was able to join the Army later in life.
He said he always wanted to repay the Shriners for their work, even though the organization is famous for its mission of treating children at no cost to families.
Now, as the Shriners embark on construction of a new $73 million hospital at their existing Punahou Street location, Inouye has found a way to give back.
"If it weren't for that pivotal moment when I was given hope, given a new chance in life, I don't think I'd be standing here today," Inouye said yesterday at a groundbreaking ceremony for the project. "So what I'm doing is something that I've wanted to do all my life. ... This is payback time for me, and you can be assured I'm going to do my damnedest to see that every dollar that is needed will be raised."
Yesterday's groundbreaking formally kicked off the fundraising campaign for the new hospital, which will feature a main hospital building, an administrative complex and a building where relatives can stay while a family member receives treatment.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by June 2010.
Patients still can expect to receive their normal care while the new buildings are going up, through the use of a 400-square-foot mobile unit, equipped with 10 inpatient beds. No one will be laid off during the construction, officials said.
"The new building will be built in parts so we that we can keep operating and keep taking care of kids while it's being built," said Dr. Ellen Raney, chief of staff at the hospital.
The hospital operates on about 600 patients a year and has about 8,000 active patients, Raney said.
Of the $73 million, $50 million is being donated by the national Shriners organization.
Officials are hoping to raise about $14 million on Oahu with the rest coming from people on the neighbor islands and other donors.
So far this year, the capital campaign on Oahu has raised about $4 million.
Officials say they expect to reach their goal by December.
"We haven't even scratched the surface and the reception's been wonderful," said Allan Dowsett, co-chairman of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee. "Those who we've asked have said 'yes,' but we're going to have to ask a lot more.
"We're in good shape. We are hoping that by the end of this calendar year that we'll have our campaign met."
The Shriners hospital opened in Honolulu in 1923, the second in the nation. Today, the Shriners operate 22 international hospitals, including 18 orthopedic hospitals and four burn-care units, serving children under 18 at no cost.