The Molokai Community Health Center recently came to the difficult decision to shut down its renovation project at the former Pau Hana Inn, according to MCHC Director Desiree Puhi.
“The decision came with many tears from the staff and community board,” wrote Puhi. “Especially sad is the loss of work for the construction workers and their families.”
It was Aug. 24 when dignitaries such as Governor Linda Lingle and U.S. Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye came to Molokai for a groundbreaking ceremony of the new six-acre site in Kaunakakai.
Now it appears as if Gov. Lingle was unwilling to release the $1 million appropriated in the 2009 legislature for this critical renovation project. According to Puhi, Lingle, “knew very well that the success of the project hinged on the release of these funds in 2010 … and a sound reason for the hold-up was never given.”
At the time of the groundbreaking the project had already begun and the 10 buildings at Seaside Place were on schedule to provide core health care services by the end of 2010. The site was planned to include primary health care, family doctors, dental, behavioral health and family support services.
The plan called for the related partner health services will be in place by the end of 2011. These were supposed to include acupuncture, massage therapy, native Hawaiian health systems and a healthy eatery including a juice bar. An opening celebration was planned for December of 2011.
The center purchased the site of the former Pau Hana Inn from New Hope Christian Fellowship in July 2009 for $2.75 million. The Pau Hana Inn was once one of two hotels in Kaunakakai. It was sold by Molokai Ranch to New Hope in 2002.
Puhi is now urging the community to put pressure on the governor to release the funds.
“The immediate release of these funds will put the project back on its feet, will put Molokai construction workers back to work, will help move our community toward a future of improved health care and wellness opportunities, and will show us Governor Abercrombie’s true commitment to Molokai,” wrote Puhi.
A form letter (see below) can be sent to Gov. Abercrombie and to Rep. Mele Carroll, Senator Kalani English, and Danny Mateo. People can also take your testimony and submit it to the governor online at: http://hawaii.gov/gov/contact/contact-gov.
Or, call the Governor’s Office (808-586-0034) and ask him to “please save an important community project by releasing the Molokai Community Health Center GIA funds immediately.”
A community rally is planned for Feb. 16 at Kulana O`iwi, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Suggested form letter
The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
Governor, State of Hawaii
Executive Chambers, State Capitol
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
RE: Release $1 Million in GIA Funds for Molokai Community Health Center
My name is (your name) and I am (brief description of yourself and relationship to Molokai). I am writing to ask for the immediate release of $1 million in GIA funds to the Molokai Community Health Center.
The health and wellness of our people translates into the wellness and balance of our communities and environments. This is why the Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) is critical to our island. It provides high quality, affordable primary, dental and behavioral health care to the island’s most vulnerable populations, its working poor, indigent, underinsured and uninsured residents.
In 2009 the MCHC took on a community supported move to a bigger and better facility. The new facility would allow MCHC to better serve its 3,000 and growing patients, fully integrate its broad spectrum of services, maximize its partnerships with other organizations, and create additional employment and partnership opportunities on Molokai.
Renovations of the new facility began in July 2010 with the promise that the State would release a $1 million Grant in Aid appropriated by the 2009 legislature. Former Governor Lingle, however, withheld these funds. The MCHC now finds itself midway through the renovation project without necessary funds for completion. The withholding of the GIA funds has also prevented the MCHC from accessing critical matching funding sources.
The continued withholding of the GIA funds will have huge negative repercussions to Molokai’s small island community — from the halting of a hugely beneficial community project, to the loss of jobs, and the economic strain of a critical healthcare provider left with the overhead of operations as well as huge mortgage costs.
On the other hand, the positive impact that the immediate release of these GIA funds will have on Molokai are huge and far reaching. Please help create a “New Day” for Molokai and release the $1 million in GIA funds to the MCHC.
(Your Address & Phone/Email)