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State Unveils Plans for New State Hospital

Wayne Yoshioka

Plans for the construction of a new Hawai’i State Hospital facility were unveiled today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
(L-R) Katie MacNeill, G70; consultant Joel Dvoskin; Dr. Ginny Pressler, Dept of Health director, Governor David Ige; Lari Diza, designer; at news conference to unveil the State Hospital plans

The 4-story, 177-thousand square foot facility will be built on the upper campus of the Hawai’i State Hospital in Kane’ohe.  The outer wall of the building will provide the first level of security with a separate16-foot tall fence along most of the perimeter providing a second level.  Forensic psychiatric facility consultant, Joel Dvoskin, says reliable perimeter security will provide a safer setting.  


“Inside of the perimeter, it’s possible to give people more room to learn things, to actually be active and to engage in therapies.  When the staff is not feeling safe, it freaks the patients out and when the patients don’t feel safe it scares the staff.  Fear causes violence.”


There will be a single public and staff entry in the front of the building, with 144 hospital beds on 3 stories in the rear of the building.  Facility Designer, Lari Diaz, says security inside the building will also provide a more therapeutic setting.


“The staff areas are connected so if there’s a crisis in one unit, the staff from the other unit can quickly come over and assist.  And the design is all generated from a single point to where a single staff member can watch all of the activity in all of the spaces where a patient can be when they’re outside of their bedroom.  So a single person can provide security that allows more therapy to happen continually within the unit.”


Credit Wayne Yoshioka
State Hospital administrator, William May


State Hospital administrator, William May, says additional staffing will be required when the facility is completed to handle the increased patient load and to maintain the added square footage.  He also says security improvements have already been made since the escape of Randall Saito last November and that will not happen again

“A building is a building.  Its bricks and mortar.  But it’s the people who work in the building.  Its gonna come down to them, starting with me to make sure the policies in place, like I said, are viable, realistic and are followed.”

Department of Health Director, Dr. Ginny Pressler, says the findings from Saito’s escape have not been finalized.


“We do expect to have the Attorney General issue its findings from its administrative investigation in the next few weeks.  We do not have those results yet at this time so we won’t be able to share details until we receive the AG’s report.”


Governor David Ige


Preliminary foundation and structural work is expected to start before the end of the year, with completion of the facility scheduled for December 2020.  Governor David Ige says the140-million dollar hospital is the first design-build project for his administration and it will be completed 2 years ahead of schedule.


“We are not constructing a building for a correctional facility.  It is a mental health facility to provide quality care; provide safety for our employees and, most importantly, to meet the needs of our communities all across the state.”


For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.

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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