KULA - Kula Hospital will be requesting $700,000 next legislative session for Hale Makamae, the only long-term care program in the state for severely developmentally disabled people, and made its pitch for the funds to Maui state legislators during a tour of the facility Monday.
The facility currently serves eight patients.
"Hale Makamae is my home," said Kelly Kahoohanohano, 50, who has lived at Hale Makamae for the last 20 years. "Our staff is like our family."
Sen. Roz Baker (front row from left), Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran and Sen. J. Kalani English listen to Hale Makamae Head Nurse Teri Teruya explain programs provided for residents.
The remarks by Kahoohanohano came from a speaker on his wheelchair hooked up to a computer. Kahoohanohano, who can move only his head, works the computer through a dot on his glasses using software.
Brent Kim moved to the Kula facility in November 1975 at age 6. Now 43 years old, he still suffers from grand mal seizures and autism that requires full medical attention, a news release said.
"Without question, I have complete peace of mind knowing that Hale Makamae will provide for Brent's medical and program needs," said Clayton Kim, his father. "But there is something else that makes this place truly a home and not an institution. It is the people who work at and for Hale Makamae. I know the staff treats Brent as not just a patient but as a person who they truly care about."
The financial problems at the facility began in 2007 when the state changed reimbursement rates for developmentally disabled Medicaid recipients, "which drastically lowered the amount of funding for Hale Makamae," a news release about the visit said. Since then, the program has suffered a $2.5 million loss.
The requested money will offset losses and "ensure the ongoing viability of the program," the news release said. The funds also will go to improvements and expansion of the living space and to purchase new equipment and technology for the residents.
State Sens. J. Kalani English and Roz Baker and state Reps. Gil Keith-Agaran and Kyle Yamashita toured the facility Monday and received a presentation on the program by staff and patients.
English said Tuesday that he was impressed with the staff and the volunteers.
"You could really feel the aloha," he said.
The state lawmaker said that the program is "a worthy cause" and that he would work with staff and volunteers to make the funding happen.
Prior to 1974, children with severe multiple handicaps on Maui were sent to the Waimano Training School and Hospital on Oahu. The facility was overflowing with 800 clients, so Maui parents lobbied and got a program on Maui. The first patients were admitted in August 1974 to a facility adjacent to the Kula Clinic. The permanent Hale Makamae building opened in 1985.
The program services clients from Oahu, the Big Island and Maui. There are eight patients and 17 staffers.
"Hale Makamae is the ultimate safety net for the most vulnerable members of our community," said Wesley Lo, chief procurement officer for the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui region, which includes oversight of Kula Hospital. "We provide services that other care facilities in the state cannot. Our goal is to assist patients in developing the capacities necessary to function with as much independence, self-determination and dignity as possible."