New state hospital is planned for 2021
Architects, designers and state health officials Wednesday pledged that a new Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe would be more secure, safer for staff and better suited to help patients with mental health issues who are court ordered for treatment.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
and state health officials Wednesday pledged that a new Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe would be more secure, safer for staff and better suited to help patients with mental health
issues who are court ordered for treatment.
The goal of the new hospital is to “make it a place
of quality care in a safe and secure environment,” Gov.
David Ige said at a news conference at the state
Department of Health.
Ige joined the unveiling
of artist renderings and
details for the four-story, 144-bed, 170,000-square-foot, $140 million building mauka of the current hospital complex.
The news conference came ahead of a much-anticipated report by the state Attorney General’s office
on how killer Randall Saito was able to escape from
the current state hospital
in November and make
his way to Maui and then California, armed with more than $6,000 in cash.
On Wednesday, state Health Director Virginia Pressler and Bill May, administrator for the Hawaii State Hospital, deferred questions about Saito’s
escape pending the Attorney General’s report, which is expected in the coming weeks.
But May flatly declared, “What happened in November will not happen with this facility.”
May — the hospital’s administrator — said
17 policies and procedures are under review
following Saito’s escape, including patients’ use
of phones, what they can possess, visitor procedures and patient privileges.
“We’ve been proactive since the day of the escape,” he said.
Seven hospital employees were placed on leave after Saito fled, was later recaptured, then indicted and found mentally fit to stand trial on an escape charge.
Hospital staff, May said, have been retrained on “proper boundaries” with patients.
Their job, May said, should be to provide treatment, “not to be a friend.”
The new building, which is replacing the 70-year-old Goddard Building that was demolished in 2016, is designed to increase the Hawaii State Hospital’s total capacity to 252 patients from 202. More importantly, according to architects and designers, it will be laid out to enable one person to monitor an entire floor while freeing up hospital staff to focus on treatment. All of the doors can be managed by a single person working in a “control booth.”
Although the control booth will be staffed around the clock, design consultant Joel Dvoskin said the goal is to rotate people constantly to avoid fatigue and encourage patient interaction.
There will be one way in and out at the front of the building for staff and visitors. Patients will be driven in through a second-story “sally port.” As an an added layer of protection, a 16-foot, “anti-climb fence” that curves inward will surround the rear of the building.
“This perimeter is very reliable so that nobody’s going to spend all their time thinking, ‘How do I get out of there?’” Dvoskin said.
Each of the three upper floors will have 48 beds with mauka views. Staff and visitors will have makai views.
Dvoskin said the friendlier, safer environment — with a gym, basketball court and dining room that opens to an indoor/outdoor courtyard — will reduce stress and lead to better treatment.
“It’s better for the morale of the staff to work in an environment that’s more pleasant,” Dvoskin said. “Fear causes violence. By creating a safe environment, it’ll be better. … Everybody’s life is safer.”
There will be dedicated treatment rooms on the ground floor for programs that “stimulate people to learn,” Dvoskin said. “Staff (will) do more teaching and less watching of people. … One person watches everyone’s back.”
The new building is scheduled to open in January 2021 on 6.92 acres of land mauka of the current state hospital complex, which is mauka of Windward Community College.
Ige said building a new Hawaii State Hospital “became one of my top priorities” but it was “not acceptable” that it would have taken eight years to get a new one up and running.
Instead, the new building is scheduled to open in less than three years.
It will represent “a major step in advancing adult behavioral health,” Ige said.