New head of Hawaii State Hospital looking forward to challenges

From charges of overcrowding, assaults by patients on staff, to being an outdated facility, the Hawaii State Hospital has been under the microscope lately.

A legislative committee went on a tour of the hospital recently and found it lacking in several areas.

After a year-long search, the state has hired a new administrator. He’s only been on the job for a week, but KHON2 News wanted to know what his plan is for the future.

William May acknowledges problems exist but “we need to celebrate the successes that we have. For every (unfortunate) event, there’s a thousand or two thousand success stories.

“Not to say that we don’t have challenges,” he said. “The facilities definitely need to be modernized.”

Hawaii State Hospital “needs some attention. It needs to be re-designed, there needs to be a new building. I think people know that and anything we can do to get that up-and-running has to happen (and) quickly.”

The hospital houses more patients than it was meant to hold, and there is a shortage of staff as well because, as May says, it often takes more than a year to fill vacant positions.

“There’s no sense having vacant positions,” he said. “We all agree that having X amount of positions is the right number, but then if you have so many vacancies below that, then you’re looking at the use of overtime … which isn’t ideal.”

As for reducing patient assaults on staff, May said there was an approach at the Colorado facility where he worked at called “I Care.”

“It’s where the staff member will approach each patient every half-hour and just say ‘are you OK?’ You know, I care about you, is there anything that you need, can I do anything for you?”

Even with the hurdles confronting him, May is optimistic.

“There’s no reason why the Hawaii State Hospital can’t be the best hospital in the world, and it’s my intention to make sure that everything required for that to happen gets done.”

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