State Hospital requires security for renovations
New fallout tonight from a high-profile escape from the Hawaii State Hospital. The City puts new demands on the hospital, before it can expand..
New fallout tonight from a high-profile escape from the Hawaii State Hospital.
The City puts new demands on the hospital, before it can expand..
The Hawaii State Hospital has been a fixture on Oahu's windward side for the past 85 years, but wasn't built to handle the type of patients it currently has.
"The Hawaii State Hospital is a vital asset to the community, but it is in much need of repair," said Kirra Downing, the Communications Director for DTL Hawaii.
Some buildings need to be renovated, others torn down and replaced. So it can house more patients and better observe those around the grounds.
Last month Randall Saito, a patient with a violent past, walked away from the hospital and ended up on the mainland. His escape resulted in changes at the State Hospital.
"As a result of what happened a couple of weeks ago, we asked public safety to come in and do a security audit of our physical plant and policies," said hospital Administrator William May.
PSD came up with recommendations, including adding technology to better monitor patients, change reporting procedures and putting up a 12' tall perimeter fence around buildings which house higher security patients.
"One of the core functions of government is to protect the health and safety of our citizens. First and foremost above all else, we need to make sure the health and safety of that community is protected," said Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson.
The Hawaii State Hospital has patients who have committed violent crimes but is not a secure facility.
"i would like to consider requiring the state hospital to become a secure facility as this redevelopment takes place," added Anderson.
Under redevelopment plans, a new 144 bed patient facility would be equipped with the latest technology to track and monitor patients.
"For the first time, we would have building features, and rooms that have security features designed from the start," said Dr. Mark Fridovich, the head of Hawaii's Adult Mental Health Division.
The new building would also be self-contained, so patients wouldn't have to leave to get services. And it would be secure.
But May admits some patients currently use the grounds to show they are not a threat to the community - before they rejoin society. That would continue to be the case in the future.
"We're still a hospital. We're not a prison. We have to have the patients demonstrate they can be responsible enough in the community - within established boundaries. Hopefully they will work their way through the facility. It is not a life sentence," stated May.
The renovation and expansion plan, with the hospital required to look at making it more secure, passed out of committee. It will now have a public hearing, and be heard before the full council.