Thursday, May 27, 1999

OHA to provide dialysis
machines for Molokai

By Gary T. Kubota


KAUNAKAKAI, Molokai -- Molokai is expected to have hemodialysis machines operating for patients by October, allowing residents with kidney failure to be treated within driving distance of their home.

State Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees yesterday approved a $120,000 grant to fund six state-of-the-art hemodialysis machines.

The treatment center means residents won't have to commute to Oahu or move off Molokai for treatment.

"It's great. They'll be able to stay at home," said Judy Mikami, program manager for Molokai General's kidney health program.

Getting their own dialysis center has been a high priority for Molokai residents.

Hawaii has the highest rate of kidney failure in the nation at 9 per 10,000 population, and Molokai has the highest rate in the state at 19 per 10,000 population.

About 62 percent of Molokai's residential population are native Hawaiians, who have a high rate of kidney disease, Mikami said.

About 75 percent of those being treated under the program are native Hawaiians, she said.

Some patients have received self-care renal treatment under a home hemodialysis program but many have had to move to Oahu.

An estimated 260 people on Molokai have been diagnosed as having potential kidney problems.

Mikami said the center, to be operated by St. Francis health officials, is expected to begin treating about 12 patients. The machines are to be located in in Kaunakakai town.

Molokai Drugs owner David Mikami, Judy Mikami's husband, is donating some 1,500 square feet of space in an office building.

In other action, OHA trustees rejected a proposal to buy the former Pau Hana Inn on Molokai to house a Hawaiian language immersion program for youths.

Trustee Mililani Trask said the $1.45 million price for the 40-room facility was too much and she felt new school buildings could be built closer to Hawaiian homesteads at Hoolehua.

But Molokai resident Walter Ritte Jr. described the rejection as a "lost opportunity" and one that won't be easily regained by Molokai parents searching for a way for their children to continue language immersion curriculum after the sixth grade.

Ritte said there are no facilities established on Molokai to accommodate graduating sixth-grade students in the program and Trask's talk of a Hawaiian language immersion school at Hoolehua was an idea. The trustees did not consider the proposal yesterday, because it failed in a 5-1 vote to be passed out of the Budget Committee.

Star-Bulletin reporter Helen Altonn contributed to this report.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin