HONOLULU (KHON2) — A hospital in West Maui has been in the works for years, but we’re three years past its targeted opening date, and construction of the facility has yet to begin.

The proposed West Maui Hospital is looking for $7 million in grant aid from the state to get construction completed in Kaanapali. The project is estimated to cost $38.5 million.

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“If the incident occurs in West Maui, my thinking would be you’d probably go to our hospital or ER first, and that’s a quick trip anywhere in West Maui you can get to our hospital in 10 minutes” West Maui Hospital Foundation Board of Directors president Brian Hoyle said.

With five beds, two to three operating rooms, and a 24-hour emergency department, West Maui isn’t anticipating issues with staffing once the facility is open.

“This is a brand new start-up hospital with state-of-the-art equipment that would be attractive,” Hoyle said.

Staffing statewide has been hard to come by.

According to the state, there are about 1,000 open nursing positions in the islands with growth projected to need 110 more positions annually until 2030. The nursing shortage was glaring during the pandemic when the state financed expensive traveling nurses to fill shortages, especially in the ICU.

The Hawaii Nurses Association said hospitals are not filled with COVID patients now, but they are still full.

“Queens has been crazy for a long time now,” HNA president Daniel Ross said. “They’re holding them in emergency rooms because they got no beds for them so people can be two, three days waiting for a bed opened up sitting on a gurney in the emergency room.”

Help is on the way — but it will take years.

Last week Governor David Ige released $1.75 million to the University of Hawaii for its nursing program to hire 39 more professors.

Queen’s is planning a $1.4 billion expansion, part of which is doubling the size of the emergency room. Straub is working on tripling the size of its campus with a 16-story hospital tower.

For now, hospitals continue to be stretched thin.

“Both have long-range plans. But we’re in a crisis right now. And so, I’m not sure what the what’s going to get us through this,” Ross said.

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West Maui Hospital is working on infrastructure now and will hope to continue construction if they get aid from the state.