Senior campus could lessen impact on community resources
Maui County and
Health Services are working on an important long-term project, the first of its kind on Maui, to benefit the current and future seniors of
Maui. Working together, the county wants to help Hale
Makua create our first senior care campus in Central Maui.
The idea is simple. As we age one of the most significant challenges is mobility. Simple things like getting to and from the doctor’s office, the hospital, rehabilitation facilities and obtaining other services become more difficult.
But what if there was a place where senior housing, senior care and everything in between were all within walking distance of each other? It’s a great concept, one which I commend Hale Makua Chief Executive Officer Wesley Lo for envisioning. Maui County Council members have heard the plan and are asking good questions about it, and I applaud them for listening and considering its merits.
Here’s how it would work: The county would offer a 75-year agreement to Hale Makua to lease the entire Kahului Community Center parcel. The intent would be to use KCC “for the purposes of expanding existing and creating new state-of-the-art rehabilitation and senior-living facilities, health care services and senior-oriented recreational opportunities,” as it is described in a resolution to council titled “Authorizing a Grant of a Lease of County Real Property to Hale Makua Health Services.” KCC borders both Hale Makua and Hale Mahaolu and can connect the two organizations, both of which are dedicated to serving our seniors.
The first phase would involve Hale Makua leasing the gateball field and the field house, where they would build an adult residential facility to provide for people who don’t need 24-hour nursing services but still need care that they can’t get in their home.
The second phase would have Hale Makua using the Kahului Community Center and annex. Please note: This transition would not occur until a suitable replacement community center is built by the county. This administration and the council do not want to leave residents without a community center, and neither does Hale Makua. Therefore, the parks director will not sign off on this transfer until a new Kahului Community Center is built.
The balance of the site, including Kokua Pool, would be transferred to Hale Makua only after another review and a second approval by the council; at that time, Hale Makua would discuss its proposed plans, facilities, programs and services that would utilize the area, and the council would ensure that our park facilities would either not be displaced or have been replaced nearby.
The goal of this project is to create a transitional care campus for seniors who need skilled nursing or rehabilitation services to receive care and then return home, to Hale Mahaolu, or one of Hale Makua’s nursing homes, if needed. Adding additional care services can free up valuable hospital beds at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is where some of these seniors end up because there is nowhere else to go.
Think about it. Our seniors will be able to rehabilitate in a safe place where they have access to a pool and can take walks in the park while having needed medical services nearby. There is even discussion about returning to an era of medical “house calls” within the new senior care center as part of this senior campus.
It’s about time. There is going to be a “tsunami” in the senior population within the next five years. Couple this with the fact that the costs of institutional services are anticipated to increase more than Medicaid can cover and we will see that things need to change very soon.
The Maui County General Plan 2030 concludes this as well. It states that “Maui’s population is aging . . . . This demographic change has significant impacts to public services as they relate to the elderly including housing, transportation, health care and elder care services.”
The county and Hale Makua can address those concerns with this proposed senior campus and lessen the impact upon our community resources. We need to create this community within our community, for active seniors, the services they need and the transition into senior care we all will eventually face.
“Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.