Administrator who oversaw Hawaii State Hospital during high-profile escape to leave post

State Hospital, Kaneohe. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
State Hospital, Kaneohe. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Mar. 4, 2019 at 12:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The administrator of the Hawaii State Hospital who was in charge the facility during one of its most controversial moments will soon leave his post, state officials announced on Monday.

William May, who began overseeing the Hawaii State Hospital in 2014, will be leaving in early May to coincide with the end of the legislative session.

His departure comes a few months after the state Attorney General’s office released its massive, 192-page report on the 2017 escape of an admitted killer from Hawaii State Hospital — an escape that happened on May’s watch.

The Attorney General’s Office said that while its investigators found significant lapses in policies and procedures at the State Hospital, it found no evidence of employee wrongdoing. In other words: it was the system that was broken.

May previously acknowledged that the timeline of events in the escape was very concerning, and also said the state has worked in recent years to bolster security at the Hawaii State Hospital, the only publicly-run psychiatric facility in the islands for forensic patients.

Despite the obviously blemish on the state hospital’s record, officials say they’ve been pleased with May’s work at the facility.

“Despite the growing census at the hospital, Bill has successfully led the hospital team to continually improve the quality of care for patients, working conditions for employees, and safety for the surrounding Kaneohe neighborhood,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, state health director.

The escape also prompted the state to pursue plans for a new state-of-the art mental health facility, and the facility’s infrastructure could well benefit from the incident. It’s been in the planning stages for years, but Randall Saito’s escape prompted the state to speed up the project and increase security.

Construction is slated for completion in late 2020 and expected to be ready for staff and patients in May 2021.

Under May’s care, the facility in January 2018 also earned re-accreditation for a three-year period.

A national search for May’s successor is now underway.

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