HONOLULU (KHON2) — From medical attention, emergency calls and treatment, the Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement program team work day and night to help houseless individuals across Oahu.
“People who are mentally ill on the streets with decompensated untreated mental illness are often a danger to themselves and they’re a danger to others and nobody should feel unsafe in their community whether it be a resident or a visitor,” said Dr. Jim Ireland, Honolulu Emergency Services Department director.
Check out more news from around Hawaii
Now, the City program is looking for a facility to set patients up for success.
“We do need somewhere here locally to stabilize them, get them therapy, get them medications and get them where they’re no longer a danger to themselves or others,” Ireland said.
However, the Hawaii Department of Health said every possible space is being used. There are more than 120 patients in the new facility which opened last week. Now that Hale Ho’ola is operating, other buildings are undergoing renovation. The state said collaboration with the City is still a possibility.
“If we have space that’s underutilized and we’re going to go through the repair and renovation process to bring them back up to speed, then we should have these important discussions about where they could be best put to use,” said Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, (D) Kaneohe, Kailua, Heeia, Ahuimanu.
Experts said any idea to alleviate emergency room and hospital capacity is critical at this time. Wednesday, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii reported the state reached a new hospital capacity record.
“We have 2,527 patients in our hospitals across the state,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO. “So that is literally a new record for us and that is a higher census than at any point during either the omicron or the delta surges.”
The state said legislation passed two years ago to repurpose other state-owned hospitals like Leahi and Maluhia which could be another solution for CORE.
More discussions are expected to find the best solutions for Hawaii’s most vulnerable.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
“When you’re in crisis on the street or you’re a member of a community that’s tired of seeing people waste away on the sidewalks. People don’t care who’s responsible for fixing the problems. They just want to see it fixed,” Keohokalole said.