Se­nior cam­pus could lessen im­pact on com­mu­nity re­sources

The Maui News - - OPINION - ALAN ARAKAWA

Maui County and

Hale Makua

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.

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