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Patients are settling in at Hawaiʻi State Hospital, but construction fixes are ongoing

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Demand remains high for mental health services at the Hawaiʻi State Hospital. The new facility on the windward side of Oʻahu just opened last spring, and officials say it is operating at full capacity — all of its 277 beds are taken.

Construction problems delayed moving into the state's psychiatric facility for almost a year and the relocation had to be done in phases. The punch list included replacing fixtures for safety reasons, water pressure and fire suppression problems, and bathroom drainage issues.

Marian Tsuji, the deputy director for behavioral health at the Health Department, said the goal is to develop a continuum of care for patients.

“We have our crisis lines, we have stabilization beds, and we also have crisis mobile outreach — teams of folks that will go out and meet with someone if they're truly in crisis. And then from there, we bring people for treatment and in some cases it's residential, it could be hospitalization, it could be outpatient treatment," she told The Conversation.

Tsuji said construction fixes are still ongoing but staff and patients are settling in.

The hospital system operates facilities on neighbor islands as well, she said, adding that expansion is needed on all islands, which the Health Department is working on.

This interview aired on The Conversation on March 10, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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