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.



Kohala Hospital Emergency Department Nears Completion

Kohala Hospital’s Department (ED) relocation and renovation project is nearing completion.  Hospital administrator, Gino Amar, recently updated the Kohala community on the progress of this project, which kicked off in July, 2013.

Phase 1 of the project included relocation and construction of a four bed, state-of-the-art emergency department.  Kohala Hospital ED nears completion  (2)

It is expected to be open for new patients by the end of the year.

As Phase 1 neared completion, hospital administrators made the decision to change the planned access point into the emergency department.  The implementation of a “walkway project” resulted in construction changes designed to create improved flow and direct entry into the ED.

“The initial entry plan was a bit confusing,” said Amar.  “The new entry will not be routed through the hospital, but will be a covered walkway with direct access into the emergency department.”

The walkway project required a few revisions to the original plan.  A window was replaced by a door, an exterior walkway cover was added and the parking area is being expanded with the addition of five new spaces, including handicapped parking.

As Phase 1 work was in process, plans for Phase 2 were set into motion.  Phase 2 included a triage area where incoming patients will initially be assessed.  It also includes a multipurpose room and waiting room with exterior entrances, and encompasses a covered ambulance carport and drop off area.

The emergency department is in the final stages of the inspection phase.

Prior to opening the new ED, hospital staff will perform mock drills to practice patient flow and resource allocation, test communications and orient staff.  The mock drills will include ED personnel along with staff from radiology, the laboratory and dietary departments.  The practice will help to identify any last minute changes that may be needed.  It will also allow staff members to become familiar and comfortable with the new facility.

The total cost of the emergency department relocation and renovation project is $1.2 million dollars.  Over $400,000 funding was provided through the efforts of the Kohala Hospital Charitable Foundation.  Additional monies were received through Capital Improvement Project (CIP) monies from the State.  Capital Improvement Project funding is restricted to maintenance and facility improvement projects, and cannot be used for day to day hospital operations.

Once the emergency department construction is completed, hospital administrators plan to begin the process to expand their service lines.

“We would like to start looking at what services we can provide here that could meet the future needs of our North Kohala community,” said Amar.