Celebration of centenarians a tribute to hospital's service


POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2009

Leahi Hospital will honor three centenarians as part of an observance of its own 100-plus years since it was established at 3675 Kilauea Ave. in Kaimuki.

Nursing home residents Ralph Aloiau, who turned 100 Oct. 22, Taka Sato, who was 101 on April 1, and Shizuyo Moriyama, 103 on Sept. 25, will be recognized in a ceremony at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

“;This is a chance for us to celebrate a real and sometimes overlooked milestone,”; Leahi Chief Executive Officer Vincent Lee said in a news release.

“;Our staff recognizes the importance of caring for these individuals who impacted so many lives, even at a nursing home setting. ...

...”;We also want to ensure not only the older Hawaii residents can live independent lives and age in their homes—like all three had—but also that they have the option to enter nursing homes if they need to.”;

The hospital moved to its present site in 1902.

It began providing long-term care services in 1960 and has been operated as a nursing home since 1996.

Leahi has 188 beds—179 for skilled nursing and intermediate care patients and nine acute beds used for tuberculosis patients. No TB beds are occupied now, said Hawaii Health Systems Corporation spokesman Miles Takaaze.

The oldest residents, he said, are:

» Aloiau, born in Kapaa, Kauai. He married Violet Loui and they had five children. He worked 13 years as an office manager for servicing appliances for W.A. Ramsey and for 23 years at Sears, retiring in 1972.

He and his wife traveled extensively and after she died in 1988 he lived independently for many years. He was admitted to Leahi in August 2005 after several strokes, falls and hospitalization.

» Sato, who was born in Hokkaido, Japan, married in her mid-20s and had two daughters. She worked at her parents' grocery store until retiring in the mid-1960s. In the late 1980s her daughter, Atsuko, invited her to Hawaii. She relocated and obtained green card status in 1990. She weakened in her mid-90s and was admitted to Leahi in May 2004.

» Moriyama, who was born in Haleiwa and married Toshihiro Moriyama at age 21. They moved to Palama to care for his parents and had two daughters. She had several jobs and eventually became an office nurse for a family physician. After her husband died in 1959, she helped to baby-sit her grandchildren, traveled extensively and worked in the garden at her home in upper Liliha.

She continued her daily routine despite a mild stroke in 1985 but by age 102 became weaker, with more frequent falls. She has been at Leahi since last November.

Leahi was originally developed to replace Victoria Hospital, a facility in downtown Honolulu for people suffering from incurable diseases, except leprosy, Takaaze said.

He said the hospital was having funding problems, and, according to a historical account, “;Within the burst of the new Americanism, there was criticism of the hospital's British-sounding name.

“;As a result, the name and concept for 'Honolulu Home for the Incurables' was born.”; A charter for the home was signed in 1901.

A temporary hospital was set up for “;homeless incurables”; after the 1900 Chinatown fire to get rid of the bubonic plague, and some people asked that a new hospital be built in a drier, cooler place than downtown Honolulu, Takaaze recounted.

The buildings that became Leahi Hospital were erected in Kaimuki in 1902. It initially took patients with all types of chronic and incurable diseases, then in the early 1950s began accepting only diagnosed and suspected cases of tuberculosis.

Leahi is one of 12 public health facilities managed by the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, a semi-autonomous state agency.

The hospital has been expanded and modernized over the years with skilled nursing, rehabilitative services and outpatient services, including an adult day health program, geriatric clinic and elder-law counseling for elderly residents in the community.