KAANAPALI - On Monday, Aug. 15, the West Maui community celebrated the groundbreaking of the long-awaited West Maui Hospital and Medical Center (WMHMC).
After a decade of work, the efforts of elected officials, developers, contractors and West Maui residents became a reality. Speaker after speaker voiced congratulations and deepest appreciation to everyone involved in making this sorely needed facility a lifesaving reality. The facility is now slated for completion in 2018, becoming the first hospital built in Hawaii since 1952.
The ceremony was held at the site of the 14.99-acre future medical campus on Kaka'alaneo Drive in Lahaina. The WMHMC campus is designed to be a fully integrated healthcare service provider, able to meet the basic health and safety needs of over 65,000 people living, working and visiting in West Maui. Presently, the West Side is medically isolated from the one acute care facility on the island, Maui Memorial Medical Center.
The groundbreaking ceremony and blessing included some of the construction crew that will be working on the West Maui Hospital and Medical Center project. Maui Mayor Alan M. Arakawa (front row, third from right) and hospital developer Brian Hoyle (front row, second from right) enjoy this long-awaited day. PHOTOS BY CINDY SCHUMACHER.
The initial phase of the medical campus will include a 25-bed critical-access hospital, a 24-hour emergency room, a 40-bed skilled nursing facility, an acute care facility, and a four-unit assisted-living and memory care facility. Total development costs for onsite and offsite infrastructure, including two medical office buildings and a future drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, is estimated at $70 million.
"This project encapsulates our promise to the community to provide a center of excellence in acute health care with a 24-hour emergency room for West Maui," said Brian Hoyle, president of Newport Hospital Corporation (NHC). "For residents and visitors, access to immediate critical care in Lahaina could make a difference between life and death, especially for victims of stroke, heart attack or trauma."
"To date, West Maui has not had the medical service commensurate with the growing needs of its residents and visitors, but soon that will change," said Steve Lovelette, executive vice president of Kaanapali Land Management Corp. "Moving forward in this 21st century, West Maui will be known for this medical campus being created by NHC. We give thanks to the foresight of the Kaanapali 2020 Planning Committee, the determination of developer Brian Hoyle, the dedication of the West Maui Hospital Foundation and the countless people who have played a role in making this facility a reality."
Howard Hanzawa, senior vice president (retired) of Kaanapali Land Management Corporation, issued an additional thank you to the Kaanapali 2020 group members, many of whom were present at the groundbreaking, for their strong community representation in the hospital project and other community issues.
"I really mean it when I say we've all shared this vision for more than a decade," Hanzawa said. "With solid determination and resolve, we solved so many problems along the way."
Maui Mayor Alan M. Arakawa couldn't agree more. "This is a momentous day," said the mayor, explaining the many years and stages it took to get to the groundbreaking. "It's important to realize this didn't happen without the time and patience of many individuals. From the idea, through the process to make it feasible, the collaboration and coordination of all those involved is truly amazing. It's about time!"
"The effects will be long-lasting," the mayor continued. "I urge everyone to remember to support all the stages that will come in the future. The facility will require a lot of effort to run, and the results will be well worth all the efforts."
County Councilwoman Gladys C. Baisa was thrilled to be part of the blessing ceremony. "I am delighted to be here and witness this before I leave the County Council this year," she said. "I spent a lot of time working to get this urgently needed facility to happen. It will literally save lives! It's a very special day!"
The project's completion will create more than 150 jobs in West Maui for doctors, nurses, clinical and support staff. The nonprofit West Maui Hospital Foundation Inc. and Critical Access Healthcare LLC will operate the hospital. Mission Health Services will manage the skilled nursing facility.
"The facility will totally change the equation for healthcare on the West Side," said Lahaina resident Bob Pure. "The new hospital will supplement and enhance the excellent urgent care facilities we already have and bring available health care to a new and higher level. The community has supported this hospital project since its inception in 2002."