Budget Items Concerning Wahiawa General Hospital and Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility
There are two budget items of great concern to me:
- Securing necessary funding for Wahiawa General Hospital (WGH)
- Protecting Youth Correctional Officer Positions at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility
With respect to WGH, as UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua stated last session, “The prospect of Wahiawa General Hospital closing is a move into dangerous and uncharted territory that took a turn for the worse last session with the privatization of the HHSC Maui Region through the passing of ACT 103. The last stand-alone healthcare facility on Oahu, we can’t afford to let healthcare giants dictate our access to healthcare services.”
Please accept this as my request that the Legislature fund the amount of $5.9 million for operations over the next two years and $1.4 million for capitol improvement. Without this appropriation, the Hospital faces possible closure. Wahiawa services the North Shore. People living in these communities will experience severely diminished medical services if their only alternatives are Queen's West and Pali Momi Medical Center. Approximately 150,000 residents and visitors will be affected by the closure.
The need is so dire, the State should assume responsibility for this hospital.
Additionally, with respect to HYCF, please accept this as evidence of my opposition to the conversion of 20 Youth Correctional Officer (YCO) Positions to Social Worker Positions at Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF). Additionally, I am opposed to the abolishment of another 7 YCO positions at HYCF.
In a April 10, 2017 Star Advertiser op-ed Peter E. Leone, Ph.D., stated, "Custody staff [YCOs] implemented intensive social skills programs. A partnership developed between education staff — employees of the Department of Education and the custody staff — employees of the Office of Youth Services (OYS)." The Star Advertiser article states Leone was a member of the team monitoring compliance of the facility under consent decree. In addition to working at HYCF, he "is a university of Maryland professor, Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education."
YCOs genuinely care about the children at the facility. YCOs have a wealth of experience working with the diverse population at the facility and have undergone training to effectively deliver and maintain the health and safety of these youth, other staff, and the community.
The State must keep in mind there is an important security aspect to the rehabilitation of our troubled youth who are oftentimes a threat to themselves and others.
Mahalo for your prudent decision-making with respect to these matters,