Donations move Hospice Maui closer to goal

WAILUKU – The Honolulu-based Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation donated $50,000 to Hospice Maui on Thursday in a ceremony adjacent to the site of a planned residential five-bedroom hospice hale.

The Ching Foundation donation and a $100,000 gift this month from Pardee Erdman of Ulupalakua Ranch pushed the nonprofit’s total donations for its facilities expansion project to more than $1.8 million, surpassing the halfway point to an ultimate goal of $3.5 million.

Work on the $1.6 million hospice hale can’t begin until an environmental assessment is completed and the county Department of Planning signs off on a building permit, said Dr. R. Gregory LaGoy, chief executive officer of Hospice Maui. Other agencies have already signed off on the permit, but the Planning Department is awaiting completion of the environmental review.

The nonprofit hopes to break ground on the project in April, he said. Plans call for building the hale on Hospice Maui’s property off Mahalani Street, near Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The second phase of Hospice Maui’s facilities expansion project is a $1.6 million hospice care coordination center, which would replace an existing 20-year-old facility used by social workers, doctors and nurses to coordinate patient care, said Kimber Carhart, Hospice Maui’s development director.

The Ching Foundation decided to support Hospice Maui (the foundation’s first charitable donation on Maui) because the facilities expansion “aligned with the foundation’s mission to assist in the care of the needy, destitute, the sick and the aged,” said Raymond J. Tam, the foundation’s vice chairman and secretary. “We believe this project will have a positive impact on the health of the entire island of Maui.”

According to the nonprofit, Hospice Maui served 330 patients and more than 1,300 patient family members and caregivers in the last year. During the same period, the agency’s average daily census of patients has doubled from an average of 30 to more than 60.

“Hospice Maui’s facilities expansion project will allow (it) to serve many more seriously ill residents on Maui each year who might otherwise die in the hospital,” the nonprofit’s announcement said.

Although most people prefer to die at home, LaGoy said that the hospice hale will serve terminally ill patients who would otherwise be forced to stay at MMMC because of the extent of care needed.

The hale will have around-the-clock, year-round skilled nursing care for pain management and other needs, he said.

LaGoy said that the Wailuku facility would be the first of its kind on Maui, and he foresees similar facilities in communities Upcountry and in West and South Maui.

“I do see this as a starting point for us,” he said.

The nonprofit’s announcement says the hospice hale would help avoid expensive hospital stays and free limited hospital beds for acute care at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Other funding for the nonprofit’s facilities expansion has come from the State of Hawaii, $500,000; Pardee and Betsy Erdman and the Erdman Family Fund, $200,000 (not including the recent $100,000 gift); Maui County and Dorvin and Betty Leis, $250,000 each; Mary Sanford and Anonymous Family Foundation, $100,000 each; and the Bendon Family Foundation and Michael and Barbara Gartner, $50,000 each.

Progress on Hospice Maui’s hospice hale project comes as Islands Hospice is attempting to establish a seven-bedroom, inpatient hospice facility at an existing Kahului home.

In October, Hospice Maui filed a lawsuit, asking a 2nd Circuit Court judge to throw out Islands Hospice’s state permit for the facility. On July 29, the State Health Planning and Development Agency granted a certificate of need to Islands Hospice over the objections of Hospice Maui.

That legal proceeding is ongoing.

As part of Thursday’s ceremony, Tam presented LaGoy with a book, “A Prophecy Fulfilled: The Story of Clarence T.C. Ching.”

Born June 2, 1912, in Anahola, Kauai, Clarence Thing Chock Ching was one of 11 children who learned their work ethic toiling in rice paddies on Kauai. In the 1920s, the family moved to Honolulu and lived in a two-bedroom home at the corner of Vineyard Boulevard and Liliha Street, according to the book.

Later, Ching went in to business, working at a family store, which had a liquor license. During World War II, Sam Damon, the owner of Damon Tract (a swath of land in the area of the Honolulu International Airport, Salt Lake and the Tripler Medical Center), would come by the store to pick up alcohol, which was rationed during the war.

“Sam Damon loved his liquor, and my uncle made sure he got all the liquor he wanted,” Tam says in the book. “He would even use other people’s ration coupons! So as you might suspect, he and Clarence became very good friends.”

That friendship eventually led Damon to sell the tract for $4.5 million to Ching and his business partner, Kan Jung Luke. Together, they founded Loyalty Investment Co. in the 1950s. Ching became a real estate developer, Realtor, banker and philanthropist. His foundation has committed to donating more than $50 million to a number of community educational and health institutions.

* Brian Perry can be reached at