HONOLULU(KHON2) — Just months after the state-of-the-art facility at the Hawaii State Hospital finally opened, officials said more beds are needed with the hospital currently over capacity. Hospital officials said they are already looking at more renovations.
The demand for mental health services is continuing to rise according to Amy Curtis, Department of Health Administrator of the Mental Health Division.
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“Just in the last year-and-a-half on HSH campus itself, we’ve had an increase in 37% in our senses,” Curtis said.
She added that the number is constantly changing so it’s hard to plan ahead.
Overcrowding at the state hospital has been an issue for decades.
A spokesperson for the DOH said they are still over capacity even with the new $160 million facility open.
According to DOH, there are 143 patients in the lower campus and 127 in the shiny, new patient care facility. DOH said staffing issues are preventing them from filling all 144 beds in the new unit.
The Kaneohe neighborhood board chair Mo Radke said when the hospital is over its limit, it makes the community uneasy.
“That creates a problem, because then the rules for release become a little bit more lenient because of over over over occupancy,” Radke said.
Rep Della Au Belatti (D), the Chair for the House Health & Homeless Committee said the lack of adequate services is concerning.
“We need to figure out this issue of mental health beds,” Belatti said.
The plan according to Curtis is to renovate the Guensberg building, one of the oldest units at the hospital built in the 1950s.
According to officials, $39 million has been requested for those upgrades.
Radke said he wants more details about security for the new facility and the type of patients they’ll house there
“Depending on who goes to that building, we definitely like to know a little bit more about that,” he explained.
Curtis said Guensberg could be used to help patients dealing with substance abuse and mental illness who need more long-term care.
“That would free up space in the Hawaii State Hospital for those that need that acute in-patient psychiatric level of care…so we’re looking at flexible space that we could use at Guensberg seeing how much things have just changed over the last year and a half,” said Curtis.
Rep. Lisa Kitagawa, Vice Chair of the House Finance Committee also wanted to know how Guensberg would be used.
“For Guensberg it wouldn’t just be court-ordered patients right?” Kitagawa asked. “It would be people that if they were in the community and they need a stabilization bed would that be available if there were space?”
“The plan long term for Hawaii State Hospital to be able to help anyone who’s in need,” Curtis explained.
A master plan, submitted by DOH in 2015, proposed additional upgrades to the facility, more than doubling its number of beds to 516.