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State green lights $25M North Hawaii ER expansion

Updated: 
October 26, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — North Hawaii Community Hospital is moving forward with a $25 million emergency room expansion.

Construction is expected to kick off in January 2019 and wrap up the following year, according to documents filed with state Health Planning and Development Agency, which earlier this month signed off on the project. The expanded emergency department is expected to open in 2020.

North Hawaii Community Hospital, a 35-bed facility that became a part of The Queen’s Health Systems in January 2014, serves more than 30,000 residents in the area plus visitors to the region. Its service area covers a wide stretch of the island, including Waimea, Hawi, Waikoloa and Pohakuloa Training Area.

“When NHCH does not have the capacity to serve its community and goes on divert,” wrote hospital president Cindy Kamikawa in the application, “patients must travel a significant distance to either Hilo or Kona to receive medical treatment.”

And the hospital’s current emergency department’s six treatment rooms are already over capacity, according to the application.

In fiscal year 2016, the hospital recorded more than 14,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the hospital’s website. From July 2016 to January, there were more than 8,000 ER visits, and 1,125 recorded in February alone.

The hospital plans to more than double the emergency department to 13 treatment rooms — including two trauma treatment rooms — and add more triage space to accommodate round-the-clock emergency care in the North Hawaii community.

The planned expansion, according to the hospital’s website, will address future growth up to 2025, when the hospital estimates more than 17,000 visits to the emergency room during that year.

“All those within the area served by the NHCH emergency department, particularly the elderly, low-income patients, racial and ethnic minorities, women, persons with disabilities and other underserved groups, will have greater access to life-saving emergent services,” states the application.

The expanded emergency department will be its own free standing structure on the eastern side of the hospital site connected to the hospital via a corridor.

The expansion is expected to cost about $25 million, the application states, and The Queen’s Health Systems is “on track to to meet the $25 million fund drive goal.”

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