Wahiawa General’s CEO calls expansion to Koa Ridge necessary

Wahiawa General Hospital is planning to move, if it can get the funding, its CEO says.

The financially troubled hospital was recently awarded $2.5 million in state funds to continue operating for a year as the hospital figures out a way to stay afloat.

While certain services would stay at the current location, a multimillion-dollar move to the planned Central Oahu Koa Ridge development is in the works and has been for awhile now, CEO Don Olden told KHON2.

He says it’s necessary for Wahiawa General to grow and meet the community’s needs within the next two decades.

Developer Castle and Cooke says the hospital was given 28 acres for a new medical complex there. The new facility would be called the Koa Ridge Medical Center.

But the hospital would need help, Olden noted: “We need to work with a partner to develop the Koa Ridge complex.”

Officials are talking to partners who can not only help to keep the current hospital afloat, but is also willing to invest in a new medical facility.

So what’s staying, and what’s moving?

Olden says acute care services will move to Koa Ridge, while the recently renovated emergency department will remain.

Wahiawa General currently serves 50,000 people, and expanding would triple that to 150,000.

“What would you say to those in the community who pushed to keep Wahiawa General here, only to find out it might be moving to a different location?” KHON2 asked Olden.

“I think the people who thought everything was going to stay here probably haven’t been listening to what’s been going on for the last 10 years,” he replied. “We have gone to many, many neighborhood board meetings.”

Olden says building the new facility could cost upwards of $75 million, but would be necessary to “stay competitive. If you don’t, people are not going to come here. Physicians will not come to the hospital.”

If all goes well, Olden says choosing a partner could happen within the next three to four months with construction for the new facility potentially starting in three to four years.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking for Koa Ridge is planned for next year. The development will provide 3,500 homes near Waipio and new schools are in the works, but developers still need to obtain permits for roads and drainage.

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