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Hawaii State Hospital names Luke as permanent head

                                Kenneth Luke
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Kenneth Luke

Kenneth Luke, interim Hawaii State Hospital administrator, now has been elevated to the position.

The state Department of Health said in a press release Thursday that Luke, the interim hospital administrator since May, becomes administrator effective Monday.

“Ken has a broad array of professional experience in Hawaii. His familiarity with our state’s mental health system, as well as his past work in the private sector, make him an excellent selection as the new administrator for the Hawai‘i State Hospital,” said Marian Tsuji, DOH deputy director for Behavioral Health in a press release. “We all look forward to working with him in his new role at the hospital.”

Luke is a Hawaii native and earned his medical degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and is a board-certified psychiatrist.

According to the press release, he will “oversee the full operations of the hospital and its team of more than 600 employees, in collaboration with a team of four associate administrators responsible for organizational and support services, clinical services, nursing services, and quality management.”

In August, Luke as interim head announced the firing of three top-level managers — Chief of Nursing Lani Tsuneishi and Associate Administrators Dr. Bim Strausser and Tony Fraiola, who were reportedly escorted off the premises.

The Hawaii State Hospital has struggled with patient overcrowding and an ongoing shortage in staff exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The staffing shortage, addressed by overtime, and patient overcrowding, were described as top issues at the state hospital, which provides psychiatric treatment for patients from Hawaii’s court system.

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