Sunday, August 5, 2001

87-year-old May Holt Higgins, left, read a letter from her son
Monday in her new room at the renovated Lunalilo Care Home
in Hawaii Kai as nurses' aide Lana Keliihoomalu arrives with
some paperwork. The care home now meets current
building codes and is more handicap-accessible.

Seniors enjoy
new Lunalilo Home

The care home's renovations
took over 4 years to complete

By Nelson Daranciang

May Holt Higgins, Richard Lyons and John Young sit together on the veranda of the newly renovated Lunalilo Home next to Kaiser High School in Hawaii Kai.

They love the place, and the porch is one of the coolest places in the building, with the doors open on both ends and the breeze flowing through.

"We got card tables over here," Lyons says. "You can have your friends over here, visitors, play cards, do anything you want over here. Plus you have a radio over here, a big old-fashioned radio."

The three seniors are the first residents to move into the care home for elderly Hawaiians following a 4 1/2-year, $4.5 million renovation. They moved in Wednesday.

The staff continues to interview prospective residents to fill an additional 43 beds in private and shared rooms.

Lyons, 62, and Young, 79, were Lunalilo Home residents before the renovation. During the renovation, they were roommates in a residential care facility in Salt Lake. They now have individual rooms.

This is Higgins' first experience in a care facility. Moving in meant leaving behind many belongings she accumulated in the 54 years she lived in her home in Kuliouou Valley nearby.

"I just packed all my clothes," including 33 muumuus, says Higgins, 87.

"I don't know what you're going to do with all those muumuus," Lyons comments.

"I'm going to wear them. I have to make myself pretty for you two old fogies," Higgins jokes.

Higgins says she is enjoying living in her new home.

Lyons is still examining all the changes made during the renovation.

"Big improvement from the last place," he says. "Way different. Everything has been changed around, and all for the better, that I can see."

The retired construction worker says his biggest concern before the renovation was the number of exposed electrical wires in the old wooden building, which was a major fire hazard.

He is pleased the building is now up to current building codes.

The renovations also made the facility more handicap-accessible, with ramps and railings inside and out to give residents the ability to move around as much of the grounds as possible.

"Five acres altogether; that's enough room to roam around for people like us, more than enough," Lyons says.

There are areas where residents can garden. But they are not limited to the facility grounds.

"Go anywhere, as long as you sign out," Young says. "Just take off, go get lost, as long as you come back."

Lunalilo Home is an adult residential care home and is not for people who need ambulatory or intensive care.

It was established 118 years ago by William Charles Lunalilo, Hawaii's sixth king, as a care home for elderly of Hawaiian ancestry.

In 1927, it moved into what was formerly the dormitory for workers and officers of the Marconi Wireless Co.

The wooden structure was built in 1914 to the exact specifications of another Marconi dormitory in Marshall, Calif.

E-mail to City Desk

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

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin