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State unveils $160M high-security psychiatric facility at the Hawaii State Hospital

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The new $160 million, high-security psychiatric facility at the Hawaii State Hospital is touted as one of the safest and most secure complexes of its type in the nation.

There are advanced security detectors near the entrances, cameras everywhere and hundreds of windows that allow staff to keep watch on the patients.

And there’s just one way in and out for patients.

“There’s no blind corners here. We know where patients are at all times. If there’s a situation with a patient in one area, staff have easy access to get to that area,” said state Department of Health deputy Director Ed Mersereau.

The Health Department gave lawmakers and the media a tour of the 144-bed facility, which greatly expands the state’s capacity to help the mentally ill patients sent there by the courts.

“That will add to the capacity we currently have which is about 230 beds. So, in total we’ll have almost 500 beds,” said Mersereau.

The Health Department said that with the new facility in Kaneohe, escapes like that of psychopathic killer Randall Saito nearly four years ago are all but impossible.

“I think it’s much safer than the multiple buildings they had ... But at the end of the day it’s still a hospital. We’re not punishing people here it’s about making people better,” said state Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, chair of the Senate Health Committee.

According to hospital administrators, about 90% of the patients have some form of substance abuse problem. About 70% are considered homeless.

There are rooms for group therapy, on site medical facilities and even a rubber room for people in danger of harming themselves.

Patients will start moving in on July 1.

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