Five years after nearly closing, Kahuku Medical Center holds open house

Published: May. 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM HST|Updated: May. 21, 2011 at 10:58 PM HST
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Dr. Richard Price
Dr. Richard Price
Barbara Kahana
Barbara Kahana

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

KAHUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It nearly closed its doors five years ago. But on Saturday, Kahuku Medical Center held an open house to show off its new, $300,000 emergency room renovation.

It's a day that many hospital staffers and some community members thought they would never see.

The new ER is great news for an emergency physician who's been at the hospital for 16 years.

"It's smaller than a number (of emergency rooms," said Dr. Richard Price, "but i think it compares very favorably. I think most people would be very surprised by how nice it is when they come in. It's very well done."

The new emergency room has six beds available to serve the 22,500 area residents, and the nearly one million annual visitors to Oahu's North Shore. Much of the time and materials for the renovation were donated.

The closest other hospitals are about an hour's drive away in either direction.

"I think its extremely important that this hospital stay open," said Barbara Kahana, president of the medical center's board of directors. "It's here, it's open for business. For the tourism and our location, we are it for this side of the island."

The hospital had filed for bankruptcy and nearly shut down at the end of 2006. Administrators said they decided to hold the open house because many people think the closure happened.

"The staff, (the) administration have been busting their okoles for the past three years, working amongst themselves to make this hospital stay open," Kahana said.

Besides the ER, each of the 21 patient beds are brand new. The hospital also recently opened a new radiology room, with the latest digital technology that allows sharing of x-rays through the Internet. Much of the equipment in the lab is new as well.

Kahuku Medical Center has remained open through a relationship established in 2007 with the state through the Hawaii Health System Corporation, which allows the hospital to remain open as a non-profit. It gets operating and capital funding support from the state.

"The funding has been stabilized," said state Rep. Gil Riviere (R-Waialua, Haleiwa, Kahuku, Laie, Schofield). "And there's some great capital improvement budgets going forward to improve the facilities here."

Next on the medical center's wish list: a new roof and new air conditioning.

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