After 10-month delay, high-security psychiatric facility at State Hospital slated to open

After a nearly ten-month delay from it's opening day due to repairs and a safety plan, the high-security psychiatric facility at the state hospital is projected
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 8:17 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a nearly 10-month delay from its opening day due to repairs and a safety plan, the high-security psychiatric facility at the Hawaii State Hospital is projected to have patients move in next week.

Administrators told lawmakers Monday, if everything goes well, they will begin moving in patients by groups on Aug. 13.

The third floor, which has 48 beds, will be occupied first.

“The first group that comes in, it’s a group that you know well, that is pretty predictable because it’s the first group where you’re trying out the new building and working with them,” said Dr. Amy Curtis, chief administrator of the Adult Mental Health Division.

Two weeks later, the next group will move into the second floor.

And then by May, patients in need of high security would move into the first floor.

“We’re making very good progress on something that is going to make a huge impact here in our community,” said Dr. Michael Champion, medical director of the Adult Mental Health Division.

It’s been a long time coming.

After years of debate and planning, construction was finished last May.

Proud officials showed off the new $160 million high security facility right next to the existing hospital in Kaneohe.

But then last summer, problems with sloping showers and door fixtures delayed the opening, along with a lack of safety policies.

Then, staff shortages made things even worse.

“We’re losing folks and COVID has really made that quite a challenge in this last two-year period of time,” Champion said. “But we are making progress.”

Champion said training is underway.

There are 117 openings — 66 of them are in recruitment.

Lawmakers hoped this would have been done by now.

“So as the building was being developed and scheduled to be open, was there discussions and agreements regarding ACG and UPWS training?” the chair of the House Committee on Health, Human Services and Homelessness said. “Or additional services hiring that could have been done instead of waiting for the visit to be done after February of 2021?”

“I would say, yes, we probably could have done those things,” said Marian Tsuji, deputy director of the Behavioral Health Services Administration. “One of the things I did identify when I came on board was the fact that they were understaffed.”

“For an endeavor like this, when you’re opening up a new facility, you’re creating an operating plan, you’re creating new policies and procedures.”

Administrators said they will start upgrading the lower campus in May.

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