Waianae Coast Comprehensive adds gardens and walking trails to draw visitors and build its business

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

The Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center sits on 17 acres of land. About two-thirds of it has been converted into walking trails.

President and CEO Rich Bettini believes the new feature will help the health center thrive.

"What we want to do is create some economic engines that can employ people," he said.

What was dry brush and barren hillside is now lush landscape with trees and plants, walking paths and water features.

Bettini thinks the gardens will generate revenue by drawing tourists from Ko Olina and beyond.

"They want a more intrinsic, cultural based experience. I think they can find it here," he said.

Kiosks outfitted with touch screens display videos that explain the meaning of the more than a dozen trails. The paths trace the health center's humble beginnings and growth, and explain the artwork, medicinal herbs and foliage that line the manicured paths.

Cultural educator Makani Tabura said a Hawaiian theme ties it all together.

"We want to create a Hawaiian village. What sets it apart is that it's not just a cultural village. It's a cultural village that focuses on health and wellness," he said.

For now tours are self-guided and free.

Eventually, they'll be paid guided tours where visitors learn Hawaiian massage and traditional healing methods.

"Anything that has to do with the Hawaiian culture we'd like to perpetuate, preserve and share," Tabura said.

The health center opened in 1966. Last year it treated more than 37,000 patients, most of them low income and native Hawaiian.

WCCHC employs more than 600 people, operates at seven sites, and trains healthcare providers.

"Healthcare is about to change exponentially," Bettini said.

He feels the village and walking trails should help the health center remain financially sound as it continues to grow.

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