HONOLULU (KHON2) — After more than a year of delays, state officials said there is a target date to begin moving patients into the new Hawaii State Hospital facility.
They said patients could start moving in within weeks, but repairs for some buildings defects are still underway.
The state was handed the keys to the new psychiatric forensics facility in February 2021. No patients have been able to move into the building after a handful of delays.
On Monday, the state’s Public Works Manager Eric Nishimoto shared some of the issues the building still faces.
Nishimoto said, “There are 84 showers in the facility, a lot of them had ponding. There were three or four that drained in the wrong direction, and those are the ones that stood out.”
Nishimoto said more than 50 of the showers ponded. He also explained how door handles and door closers had to be replaced to prevent suicide attempts.
These are fixes that are going through the building’s contractor.
Senator Jarrett Keohokalole pressed state and DOH officials for answers regarding the more than a year delay.
Keohokalole asked, “The building has been closed for 15 months are a result of this?”
The Department of Health’s Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Marian Tsuji took responsibility for some of the delays. She said the department could have been more proactive with hiring and creating protocols as construction took place.
Tsuji said, “There were a number of things that should have started while the building was still being built like an operating plan start drafting policies and procedures.”
Keohokalole also asked for an update regarding Andrew Schmitke’s escape from the state hospital last month. Schmitke’s criminal record includes burglary and alleged stabbing of a person.
Tsuji said, “The attorney general’s office is currently investigating that so they asked us not to comment on that at this time.”
Keohokalole said he wished the department informed them of the inability to comment prior to the committee meeting.
He said, “I think it is disappointing we are not going to have an update on that at this point when we could have been informed prior to publishing this agenda for the briefing.”
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State officials said patients will begin moving into the facility in mid-April.