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New Hawaiʻi State Hospital facility to open in Kāneʻohe after delays

HONOLULU — State officials expect the Hawaiʻi State Hospital to finally open its new psychiatric facility in about two weeks after more than a year of delays.

State Department of Health officials told a state Senate briefing on Monday the delays were caused by a lack of policies and procedures and difficulty recruiting staff. They also cited flaws with shower floors, door handles and hinges.

The hospital primarily houses patients with significant mental health issues who have been ordered there by the courts after committing crimes. Courts may also order people to stay there while they wait for evaluations on whether they are mentally fit to stand trial.

The $160 million newly-built 144-bed facility in Kāneʻohe was finished in early 2021. The Honolulu Fire Department granted a certificate of occupancy that February. But the Department of Health took months to create policies and procedures for operating the facility and to consult unions representing staff. New recruitment didn’t begin until May.

Marian Tsuji, the department's deputy director of behavioral health, said this work should have begun earlier.

She said department staff were also juggling the daily operations of the existing facility in the midst of a pandemic.

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