HILO — Well-wishers flooded Mayor Harry Kim’s office Thursday with phone calls, emails and get-well cards and were turned away from his Honolulu hospital room after the mayor, who previously suffered three heart attacks, checked himself in for evaluation after experiencing chest pains.
The mayor was in stable condition at press time Thursday.
Kim, 78, drove himself to Hilo Medical Center around 4 a.m. Thursday and was medevaced to The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu at 6:45 a.m. At the time, Kim was coherent and talking, said managing director Wil Okabe.
Okabe, who is serving as acting mayor while Kim is on sick leave, said Kim is resting while doctors evaluate him for a procedure. He had not been diagnosed with a heart attack, Okabe said.
Okabe said rest was so important to the mayor that he even turned away Gov. David Ige, who along with a line of state legislators, stopped by the hospital to visit Kim.
“He’s a very popular guy,” Okabe said. “He needs to rest. We’re going to respect his wishes and his privacy.”
Kim has previously had three heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery, multiple bouts of meningitis and hepatitis and surgery on discs in his back and neck. His last heart attack was in 2008.
“Mayor Kim has a fighting spirit and I know he’ll want to be back at work serving the people of Hawaii County as quickly as possible,” Ige said in a statement. “I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.”
Rattled staff members were seen filing into the county offices in Hilo Thursday morning for an emergency meeting. All of the department directors have been notified and are ready to carry on the work, Okabe said.
Kim had told a West Hawaii Today reporter Wednesday afternoon that he was feeling tired, and he didn’t attend a meeting later that evening with vendors to explain new rules about concessions at the Kalapana lava viewing area.
The mayor usually keeps a hectic schedule, starting with daily early morning briefings at Civil Defense and continuing through evening meetings most days. He’s been in office since December 2016, after serving two terms from 2000 to 2008.
“We’ve had an outpouring of people calling, emailing and on social media telling us how much Harry means to them,” Okabe said in a statement. “Harry is very grateful for all of the good wishes and prayers, and so are we.”