Funding will improve settlement
WAILUKU » More than half a million dollars in state money has been released to improve hospital facilities for Hansen's disease patients at the historic Kalaupapa settlement in northern Molokai.
The $510,000 released by the state at the end of last month is for the design and construction of improvements to a 14-bed nursing facility for the 27 patients who reside at the settlement.
Kalaupapa, where Father Damien DeVeuster devoted his life to the welfare of the patients, was named a National Historical Park in 1980.
The patients have been allowed to live out their lives at Kalaupapa. "For a handful of elderly residents, Kalaupapa settlement continues to be home," Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday.
"The state has a responsibility to ensure that the settlement's buildings -- and in particular the nursing facility -- are safe and well-maintained."
Kalaupapa, a peninsula surrounded by 2,000-foot cliffs, was a place of forced isolation for Hansen's disease patients from 1866 to 1969.
The state plans to complete the design by September and finish seven months of construction by October 2009.