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Honolulu City Council Committee Advances Hawai'i State Hospital Use Permit

Wayne Yoshioka

A Honolulu City Council Committee cleared the way for a major construction project for the Hawai’i State Hospital today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports. 

The Hawai’i State Hospital’s application for a use permit to design and build a new 144-bed forensic treatment facility in Kane’ohe came before the Honolulu City Council Committee on Zoning and Housing. State Hospital Administrator, William May, says security is built in to the design.

“The forensic patient facility will be a self-contained building.  The patients will get all of their treatment, they’ll be fed, they’ll be treated, they’ll be housed in an extremely secure building.  The rest of the campus is – as its planned now – will not be a secure facility.”

The Department of Public Safety conducted a security audit for the hospital and recommended higher walls and the use of technology to better monitor patients.  But, Adult Mental Health Division Chief, Mark Fridovich, says as patients progress through treatment, the law requires they be provided surroundings with minimum restrictions.

“The hospital and the state has responsibility for providing treatment for mental health challenges and for arranging for appropriate rehabilitation transition to the community.  And that would be assessed taking into account how that person is functioning today.”

Less than a month ago, State Hospital Patient, Randall Saito, escaped from the facility, flew to Maui, then to the mainland and was caught 3 days later in California.  Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, who represents Windward O’ahu, requested the entire State Hospital grounds be secured as a condition of approval.

Credit Wayne Yoshioka
(L-R) Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, State Hospital administrator William May and Adult Mental Health Division chief, Mark Fridovich.

“I’m asking that this resolution be amended to require the Department of Health to at least seek funding from the legislature to make the State Hospital a secure facility and submit evidence to the Council by January 31, 2018 that that request has been made.”

The Resolution now goes to the full council for a public hearing and adoption.  The State Legislature has already appropriated 160-million dollars to build the new forensic building, scheduled to break ground next year.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.

Wayne Yoshioka
Wayne Yoshioka is an award-winning journalist who has worked in television, print and radio in Hawaiʻi. He also has been on both sides of politics as a state departmental appointee and political/government reporter. He covered Hurricane Iwa (1982) as a TV reporter; was the State Department of Defense/Civil Defense spokesperson for Hurricane Iniki (1992); and, commanded a public affairs detachment in Afghanistan (2006). He has a master's degree in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is a decorated combat veteran (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and 22 other commendation/service medals). He resides in Honolulu.
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