In the governor’s backyard, 8 homeless patients settle in at medical respite tiny village
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Gov. Josh Green gave HNN an exclusive first look inside the state’s new medical respite kauhale next to his residence.
Pulama Ola village opened on May 31st, and is now home to eight homeless patients who were recently discharged from local hospitals.
“So the concept was to have very low impact. And we built it, we did the whole build out in seven weeks, which is kind of extraordinary under the emergency proclamation. And we have great partners in Project Vision and HomeAid who helped us build this, lots of charity, lots of humanitarian support,” Green said.
The village includes 10 living units, bathroom and shower facilities, a nurse’s station, 24-hour security office and outdoor sitting area. Only homeless patients who are referred by a hospital can stay in a unit so staff have a complete medical history, but anyone is welcome to use the washroom and outdoor facilities and seek help from staff. Nonprofit Project Vision, which manages the village, says it’s reviewing referrals and plans to fill the two remaining units soon.
Guests get three meals a day and have access to an on-site nurse and doctors on call. Dr. Green examined some of them.
One 72-year-old woman had a stroke and issues with memory loss. Another man in his 60s had anemia, diabetes, shortness of breath and fatigue.
“If they don’t go to the hospital, which costs about $4,500 bucks every time you go in for check ups and fancy technology, they can come here and get that at essentially very low cost. Well, they’ll get them for free but low cost to society,” Green explained. “This really is specifically for people that would otherwise be in deep trouble when they went back on the street, and immediately would go back into the hospital because it couldn’t get better. I can tell you that this kauhale will probably save conservatively a million dollars a month of health care costs that we as a state would be responsible for.”
Each unit has a keypad for privacy and security, bed, fan, storage area and side table with light. There is no time limit for guests, as long as they are in need of medical resources for recovery.
“Being safe is very important. To the individuals that come here, there’s a lot of trust issues, there can be behavioral health and mental issues, that people have anxiety or paranoia. So we want them to feel safe when they’re here,” Green said.
“The all-in cost of a unit is well under $20,000, for all of it, because electricity and the ability to charge up a cell phone and whatnot. But also so much generosity went in that the cost was even way less,” Green said.
“Instead of having 10 people laying on the curb or on the street suffering after coming out of the hospital, they have a place to go instead of the hospital probably spending $50,000 a day on 10 individuals... that’s $1.5 million a month. Basically, they’re here getting care and not struggling. So it’s really good care. It takes some work takes a lot of commitment. But this a great team.”
When asked about taking the model to other areas and overcoming the “not in my backyard” opposition, Project Vision executive director Darrah Kauhane said, “On our website, ProjectVisionHawaii.org/kauhale, we have a sign up sheet where people can come and volunteer or just come have a meal, talk story with our guests, we’d really like you to learn who the people actually are. There’s a lot of fear around homelessness. But really, if you get to know them, we’ve been having a blast together. So once you know someone’s story and know who they are inside, maybe that’ll help to alleviate some of the fears.”
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