• Monday, September 17, 2018
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Hawaii News

Illness keeps Big Isle Mayor Kim off the job — at least for a day

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim speaks during a community meeting to address concerns, May 4, in Pahoa.

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Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, who suffered his fourth heart attack just before the May 3 eruption of Kilauea Volcano, had another brief stay in the hospital Friday morning and went home diagnosed with a relapse of pneumonia.

“He needs to rest,” county spokeswoman Janet Snyder told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an email. She said Kim was resting at home Friday.

In a statement, Kim, 78, said, “They made me promise to stay home today.”

Staying away from running both Hawaii County and overseeing operations in response to a volcanic eruption with no end in sight might be problematic for the notoriously hardworking mayor, said Hawaii County Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter.

“I always say, ‘Mayor Kim is like the Timex watch: He takes a licking but keeps on ticking,’” Poindexter said. “I don’t know if it’s the stubborn Korean in him, but his wife has to chain him to the house at this point.

“Let others do the heavy lifting right now,” Poindexter said, “then he can come back full force.”

Snyder said she did not know what Kim’s health care professionals at Hilo Medical Center told him about how he should treat his relapse of pneumonia.

Kim was diagnosed with walking pneumonia following his fourth heart attack.

The mayor, who turns 79 in August, underwent bypass surgery, had surgery on discs in his back and neck, and was diagnosed with multiple bouts of meningitis and hepatitis. His previous heart attack was in 2008.

The mayor had been at the county’s Disaster Recovery Center about 1 a.m. Friday, Snyder said.

After Kim suffered severe chills, his wife, Bobbie, called 911, and an ambulance took him to Hilo Medical Center.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman (D, Puna) saw Kim in a Hilo barber shop Thursday and said the mayor “seemed tired and a little subdued. You can see the stress on him, and he’s the kind of guy who takes it all on. I’m sure everything’s been weighing on him very heavily.”

Earlier this week county Managing Director Will Okabe told those gathered at a nighttime community meeting in Pahoa that the mayor was absent because he needed to rest.

The following morning, Snyder told the Star-Advertiser in an email:

“He was at our first responders meeting this morning (Wednesday) at 6:30, and looked good. He was very much in charge of the meeting.”

Dr. Ralph Shohet, head of the Center for Cardiovascular Research at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, hesitated to suggest what Kim’s doctors may be telling him since Shohet did not examine Kim or have a complete medical history.

In general, though, Shohet said, “Rest. That sounds like a good idea under the circumstances.”

Especially with air quality concerns around Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone, Shohet said, “a 78-year-old man with multiple medical problems may have greater vulnerability to the issues of air quality on the Big Island.”

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