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Emergency funds for Kauai health system clear committee hurdle

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:10 a.m. HST, Nov 2, 2013

The state Senate Health and Ways and Means committees Friday approved $7.3 million in emergency funding to sustain two Kauai rural hospitals through next spring.

House lawmakers passed House Bill 3 earlier this week and increased the appropriation to $7.3 million from $2.5 million after Hawaii Health Systems Corp. officials testified that more money is needed for services on Kauai. 

The bill, which the Senate committees did not amend, now goes before the full Senate for final approval.

The system's Kauai region operates Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, which houses the only inpatient psychiatric unit on the island; Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital; and three physician clinics in Waimea, Kalaheo and Port Allen.

Mahelona hospital serves about 7,000 emergency room patients a year as well as 15 long-term care patients and about four psychiatric patients a day. Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital also serves 7,000 emergency room patients a year, 20 long-term care patients a day and about 14 acute patients a day.

Alice Hall, acting president and chief executive officer of the system, said the money will carry the Kauai hospitals into the Spring, at which time the system will ask the Legislature for system-wide emergency appropriations. 

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