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Rehab center set for Hana moving forward

Further environmental review not needed for Hana Health project

Construction of a $5.3 million rehabilitation center — which was once part of a much larger plan for a wellness village in Hana — can proceed without further environmental review, following a decision by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources last month.

The decision was reported Wednesday in the latest edition of the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.” DLNR is involved because the project involves the use of its lands.

Hana Health, which is proposing the center, is the town’s only health care provider and offers primary medical care, dental health services and behavioral health services. In the early 2000s, the organization was moving forward with plans to build a $26 million Community Health and Wellness Village, which would have included administrative offices, a conference center, a fitness studio/center, nutrition center, kupuna housing units, wellness cottages and a cultural healing center, among other services. It would have been built on two parcels totaling 12 acres.

A finding of no significant impact for the project was published in the Dec. 8, 2004, environmental notice. However, the wellness village never came to fruition. In 2015, Hana Health asked the state to allow it to build a rehabilitation center, a multipurpose building for behavioral and mental health services; physical therapy and cardiac rehab; short-term, overnight accommodations for patients transitioning back into their homes; and hospice and/or elderly care for Hana residents.

The rehabilitation center would occupy only the smaller, 2-acre parcel.

Since the surrounding environment has not changed and the project has been scaled down, Hana Health’s position was that a new environmental assessment should not be required, according to a DLNR report.

The rehabilitation center is now proposed to be 3,800 square feet, which has been since downsized over the years due to development costs, Hana Health Executive Director Cheryl Vasconcellos said Wednesday via email. Original plans for the wellness village called for 33 buildings totaling more than 72,000 square feet.

Vasconcellos said Hana Health still needs around $3.5 million for the new center.

Construction is anticipated to begin at the end of 2020 with completion the end of 2021, Vasconcellos said.

She added that Hana Health is “working to make this much needed facility a reality for the people of Hana.”

According to the DLNR report, Hana Health is often called upon to provide ancillary and specialty care, such as those projected for the center, but is unable to adequately address those needs due to lack of appropriate facilities.

Vasconcellos said Hana Health never embarked on its full plans for the wellness village because “it’s all about the funding.”

She said there is “very little interest in supporting needed infrastructure for an isolated community of 2,000 people” and that the cost/beneficiary ratio is extremely high.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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