Kona Community Hospital, Straub Medical Center Receive Nearly $12 Million in Federal Relief Funding

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz announced that Kona Community Hospital on Hawai‘i Island and Straub Medical Center on Oahu received a combined $11,927,758 in new federal funding to support health care services for vulnerable and low-income individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The two medical centers serve as safety net hospitals, providing care to individuals regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for health care services.

Kona Community Hospital

“Kona Community Hospital and Straub Medical Center play an essential role in providing health care to our most vulnerable residents on the Big Island and Oahu,” said Sen. Schatz, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “With hospitals on the front lines of this global health crisis, this federal funding will provide important resources to make sure they remain operational so that everyone can get the care they need regardless of their ability to pay.”

The new funding is part of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Hospitals that serve a disproportionately high number of Medicaid patients or provide large amounts of uncompensated care are eligible for this safety net allocation from the Provider Relief Fund.

In addition to this funding, Hawai‘i health providers have received more than $200 million in federal grants to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including funding to acquire PPE, cover testing and treatmentsupport rural hospitals, and other response efforts.

Big Island Police Investigating South Kohala Drowning

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a possible drowning over the weekend in the South Kohala District.

kona drowning 2

At 9:35 a.m. Sunday (December 28), South Kohala officers responded to report of a male swimmer in distress at Wailea Beach in Puakō. A kayaker had found the swimmer motionless in the water and had taken him to shore.

Efforts to revive the him with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation were unsuccessful. He was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as 53-year-old David Green Thompson of Seattle.

An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday (December 30th) to determine the exact cause of death.

77-Year-Old Kona Woman Killed in Four-Vehicle Collision

A 77-year-old Kona woman was killed Thursday (April 19) after being involved in a four-vehicle collision at the intersection of Route 190 and Hinalani Street in Kailua-Kona.

Responding to a 2:58 p.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that the woman was operating a 2011 Hyundai multi-purpose vehicle and traveling south on Route 190 when she rear-ended a 2006 Toyota four-door sedan being operated by a 34-year-old Waikoloa man.

The Hyundai continued south and sideswiped a 1999 Jeep multi-purpose vehicle traveling north which was being operated by a 42-year-old woman from Kailua-Kona.

Debris from the crash also damaged a 1998 Mazda pick-up truck also traveling north and being operated by a 51-year-old Kailua-Kona man.

The Hyundai continued south on Route 190, struck a stop sign at the intersection of Route 180, ran off the left side of the road, struck an embankment and overturned in the parking lot of an old nursery which is just south of the Route 190 and Route 180 intersection.

The Hyundai then caught on fire and the driver was burned in the vehicle.

The drivers of the other vehicles were not injured.

The woman was taken to Kona Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 7:09 p.m.

Her name is being withheld pending positive identification.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police are investigating whether the woman suffered from a medical condition prior to the crash.

Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Larry Flowers at 326-4646, extension 229.

This is the 12th traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with eight at this time last year.

Funds Released for Kona Community Hospital Capital Improvement Projects

A portion of the more than $34.2 million of Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds released today by Governor Neil Abercrombie will benefit Kona Community Hospital.

The Kona Community Hospital will receive $5,000,000 in CIP funds towards the repair and upgrade of emergency disaster infrastructure at the hospital, including replacement of elevator, water sprinkler, and chiller systems; reroofing to repair leaks above the emergency and operating rooms; and upgrades within the emergency room.

“We thank the Governor for his support of Kona Community Hospital,” said Representative Denny Coffman (District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau).  “These funds will allow Kona Community Hospital to better serve the communities and residents of Kona.”

“We need to make sure our hospital infrastructure can meet the demands on it,” added Rep. Cindy Evans (District 7 – North Kona, South Kohala).  “I’m pleased the Governor released funding to ensure the infrastructure is in top condition to meet the treatment of patients.”

Avid Kona Fisherman Caleb Wolfson Dies in Kailua-Kona Motorcycle Crash

A 38-year-old Kona man died early Thursday morning (April 12) from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle crash Wednesday night (April 11) at the intersection of Henry Street and Palani Road in Kailua-Kona.

Caleb Wolfson "Papio shot on my birthday off Hualalai" (Facebook photo)

The victim has been identified as Caleb Wolfson of Kailua-Kona.

Responding to a 10:22 p.m. call Wednesday, police determined that Wolfson had been operating a 2006 Yamaha motorcycle eastbound on Henry Street when he struck a concrete barrier and was ejected from the bike.

Fire/rescue personnel took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he died at 3:12 a.m. Thursday.

It is not known if he was wearing a helmet, but a helmet was found at the scene. Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Police have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

This is the 11th traffic fatality this year, compared with seven at this time last year.

Kona Community Hospital to Roll Out New Mobile Medical Van

An effort to bring health care to Big Island communities with limited resources is growing larger by the day.  Rep. Robert Herkes has enlisted the help of Ka‘u community leader Auntie Jessie Marques and the Ka‘u Rural Health Community Association (KRHCAI) as he and the Kona Community Hospital get ready to roll out a new mobile medical van.

“The van will provide physical, mobile access to care,” said Herkes. “Auntie Jessie and her team will supplement those efforts through virtual care.”

The 32 ½ foot van is being blessed this Saturday in a noon ceremony at the Kona Community Hospital. Appropriately named Ka‘a Ho‘ōla, the van will focus on “growing rural health care” in South Kona. Initially, it will target school-age children by offering vaccinations, immunizations, and school physicals. Eventually, the van will reach out to other residents to provide urgent care services, health education, and disaster relief during an emergency.

Kona Community Hospital will own and operate the van, which, thanks to the efforts of Rep. Herkes and the Legislature, is equipped with wireless tele-health capabilities. Using HMSA’s Online Care, staff will be able to provide patients with access to medical specialists when needed. KRHCAI will enhance those efforts by welcoming residents to its resource center in Pahala and offering guidance in using Online Care.

Kona Man Sets Himself on Fire and Attempts to Set Ex-Girlfriend on Fire Too

A South Kona man is in police custody after setting himself on fire and attempting to do the same to his ex-girlfriend.

Police initially received a 1:21 a.m. report Tuesday (February 14) that a man was walking on Tobacco Road in Hōnaunau with a knife. En route, Kona patrol officers received updates that a house at that location was on fire.

Upon arrival, the officers determined that the suspect, 27-year-old Robert York of Hōnaunau, had reportedly gone to the home of his ex-girlfriend, poured a flammable liquid on the front porch and lit it on fire.

After the 26-year-old victim escaped from the house by climbing out a window, the suspect reportedly restrained her and poured the flammable liquid onto both her and himself.

The victim’s relatives, who live in another house on the same property, heard the commotion, exited their house and pulled the suspect away from the victim. As one of the relatives was fighting the flames on the porch with a garden hose, the suspect set himself on fire.

The relatives helped the suspect [corrected party] extinguish the flames. The suspect [corrected party] then fled from the property on foot.

A short time later, the suspect called 911 and was taken by ambulance to Kona Community Hospital for treatment of burns.

Police made contact with York at the hospital. When he was discharged from the hospital at 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, officers arrested him on suspicion of abuse, terroristic threatening and arson. He is being held at the Kona police cellblock while detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

The victim did not require medical attention for the injuries she received during the struggle with the suspect.


Woman Dies in South Kona Car Crash… Police Arrest Her Before She Dies

A 36-year-old Kealakekua woman died Sunday (February 12) from injuries she sustained in a one-vehicle crash at the intersection of Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 11) and Route 180 in Honalo, South Kona.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as Dana M. Leoneza.

Responding to a 2:26 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that Leoneza was operating a 1998 Subaru multi-purpose vehicle and traveling south on Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Route 11), when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road and struck a utility pole.

Fire/Rescue personnel took Leoneza and her passenger, a 25-year-old Kailua-Kona man, to Kona Community Hospital.

Leoneza was pronounced dead at 8:19 p.m.

The passenger was listed in serious condition and confined to the hospital.

Before her death, Leoneza was arrested at the hospital for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant, negligent injury and promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree. Because she was confined to the hospital, she was released pending further investigation.

Speed and alcohol appear to be factors in this crash.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a coroner’s inquest case and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

This is the second traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with five at this time last year.

Woman Identified in Big Island’s First Traffic Fatality of the Year

A 42-year-old Hōlualoa woman died Thursday (February 9) from injuries she sustained in a two-vehicle crash on Kaiminani Drive, 150 feet west of Ane Keoholeola Highway in Kailua-Kona.

The woman was identified as Sheila Goto.

Responding to a 9:33 a.m. call, Kona patrol officers determined that a 42-year-old Keaʻau man had been operating a 2000 Ford (crane truck) from a local electrical company and traveling west on Kaiminani Drive when the boom of the truck struck a large cable going across the roadway.

This caused the truck to tip over on its left side and the boom of the truck to strike a 2011 Ford pickup truck traveling east that was being operated by Goto.

Goto had to be extricated by Fire/Rescue personnel and later transported to Kona Community Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:22 p.m.

Two passengers in the Ford pickup truck, a 37-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman, both from Kailua-Kona, were treated and released from Kona Community Hospital.

The driver of the crane truck was confined to Kona Community Hospital in stable condition.

The driver and front seat passenger of the Ford pickup truck were the only people wearing their seat belts.

It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved.

Traffic Enforcement Unit officers have initiated a negligent homicide investigation and have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police ask that anyone with information about this crash call Officer Thomas Koyanagi at 326-4646, extension 229.

This is the first traffic fatality on the Big Island this year compared with four at this time last year.