CIP funds released for Kohala Hospital improvements

By Chelsea Jensen West Hawaii Today

Saturday, May 2, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

Funding Kohala Hospital is another step closer to renovating and upgrading its on-site housing for staff following Gov. David Ige’s Wednesday release of capital improvement project funding.

Built in 1939, the cottage provides housing on-site for Emergency Department staff, an on-call laboratory technician, and occasional traveling medical staff for the critical access hospital in rural Kapaau.

“The cottage provides a living area for essential staff who live outside the North Kohala district and have to be on call,” said Gino Amar, Kohala Hospital administrator.

The $125,000 in CIP funding will be used to bring the building to current code and renovate and upgrade it or build a new living area, said Amar.

“Mahalo to the Governor for releasing the funds for this important project,” said Rep. David Tarnas (D-North Kohala, South Kohala and North Kona). “The Kohala Hospital in rural Kapa’au is a critical healthcare facility for our community. Their front-line staff are dedicated to keeping our community safe and healthy, especially during these challenging times. These Capital Improvement Project funds to support renovations and improvements at the hospital are very important, and I appreciate the Governor’s support.”

Kohala Hospital opened its doors to patients in 2917 as a 14-bed facility serving residents of the Kapaau sugar cane plantation community. Today, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. affiliate boasts 28 beds, and a 24-hour ER for all of North Kohala that sees about 2,000 visits annually.

In recent years, the hospital’s emergency department was remodeled, expanding capacity from two to four patients. Additional upgrades include a new waiting room and triage area, installing multiple “high-security cameras” both inside and outside the ED, and double the parking. Administration offices were also relocated allowing for a larger rehab department.