Sunday, March 03, 2024|
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Hilo Medical Center will undergo a $50 million expansion next year.
Funding for a large expansion of Hilo Medical Center is included in the final version of a state budget bill.
House Bill 300 allocates $50 million toward the first phase of HMC’s expansion project, which will increase the patient capacities of the Intensive Care Unit and the Patient Care Unit.
The number of ICU beds will rise from 11 to 30, and the number of PCU beds will increase from 15 to 51.
Both units will be located in a new three-story structure to be built above the current physician and visitor parking area that is adjacent to the hospital.
“The funding for the expansion of Hilo Medical Center is a huge win for our communities in East Hawaii and for Hawaii Island,” Dan Brinkman, CEO of Hilo Medical Center, said in a statement. “We are excited about the improvements in care we can offer our family, friends and neighbors. We need to get busy building!”
Gov. Josh Green initially requested $50 million for the project, but House lawmakers in March reduced the funding to $25 million, before the full amount was later restored.
State Sen. Lorraine Inouye, who represents Hilo, Paukaa, Papaikou and Pepeekeo, confirmed Wednesday that the final bill contains the $50 million originally sought.
“Big mahalo to Rep. (Mark) Nakashima, Rep. (Chris) Todd and Sen. Inouye for their advocacy for this project and for health care in our community,” Brinkman said. “We are also very appreciative of Gov. Green’s prioritization of this expansion and for his support of neighbor island health care. Mahalo to House and Senate leadership for their support as there are many worthy projects and initiatives that were requested this session.”
HMC’s patient capacity has not changed since its construction in 1985, despite the Big Island’s rapid growth over the last 38 years.
The additional ICU and hospital beds will allow HMC to care for more patients on-island and help reduce the reliance on Oahu hospitals that have their own bed capacity challenges.
“The East Hawaii Regional Board has made a commitment to provide all urgent medical services on island that would be seriously compromised by the need to travel,” said Jerry Gray, East Hawaii Regional Board chair, in a statement. “If it needs to be done today, we want it to be available here. This commitment by the House, Senate, and governor to help us with this major capital expenditure will move that goal toward reality.”
A final environmental assessment for the HMC expansion project was published Sunday.
Phase one will focus on the ICU and PCU beds, while phase two will consist of building a Family Birthing Center with six labor, delivery, recovery, postpartum (LDRP) rooms, three LDRP isolation rooms, and three patient rooms for postpartum and antepartum patients.
Both additions will connect to the existing HMC building via an enclosed pedestrian bridge, and the current physician and visitor parking area will be redesigned to accommodate the expansion.
Construction is planned to start at the beginning of 2024.
HB 300 allocates $19.6 billion for the state budget in 2024 and $18.7 billion in 2025.
“This budget does reflect priorities of the governor, the House and the Senate,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz of Oahuon Tuesday. “We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished together. It’s our budget, and it will definitely help the people of Hawaii.”
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