North Shore Residents Mourn Hospital Loss

Laurie Abregano
Laurie Abregano

(KHNL) -- After 77 years, it's like part of the family. The impending closure of the financially-struggling Kahuku Hospital isn't sitting well with patients who have come to depend on it.

Laurie Abregano picks up two of her kids at Kahuku Elementary. The bright-eyed girls and their four siblings were all born at Kahuku Hospital.

"It's a small, rural hospital," Abregano said. "But, you know, it's our lifeline out here."

When she faced a frightening situation involving her dad, it was the emergency room the family rushed to.

"My father had a heart attack five years ago," Abregano said. "And without the hospital, he would have died."

Now, a different kind of heart ache. The beloved medical facility is closing.

"Without the hospital, we'll have to travel an hour either direction to receive any kind of emergency care," Abregano said.

Many children in the community either were born at Kahuku Hospital or, at some point, rushed in for emergency care.

"Two of my other children crashed on their bicycles in our neighborhood right here," Carol Ueda, Kahuku resident, said. "And it was good to be able to just take them down the road."

Ueda hopes something can be done to stop the closure. She worries about her 60-year-old friend, who has multiple health problems.

"She was talking about it today, too," Ueda said. "And she's not sure what she'll do."

The hospital says it's been losing $1.5 million to $2 million a year. It's expected to be in bankruptcy by the end of the year.