State Awards $140 Million Contract to Construct State Hospital Building

January 29, 2018, 12:45 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 11:58 AM
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On behalf of the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) has awarded a $140 million contract to Hensel Phelps Construction Company to design and build a new 144-bed forensic psychiatric facility for the Hawai‘i State Hospital in Kaneohe.

“Our community has needed a new forensic mental health facility for years, and we are accelerating its design and construction,” said Gov. David Ige. “I’m pleased to be moving ahead with a project that will help some of our most vulnerable community members.”

The legislature allocated a total of $160.5 million for the new building of which $20.5 million was set aside for planning, construction administration, construction contingencies and other related project costs.

The new building will replace the Goddard Building that was demolished last year. The new building will occupy a site of about five acres on the upper campus with 255 stalls for parking and about 180,000 square feet of patient, treatment and support space in a multi-story building.

The new building will feature a 24-bed admissions unit for assessment of new patients, a 24-bed high-risk unit for patients needing specialized care, four 24-bed units for patients for routine care, and a treatment mall with services such as occupational, recreational and rehabilitation therapy to assist patients with their recovery within this facility. The treatment areas will have a therapeutic environment with separate interaction areas for activities and a secured outdoor yard area for walking and exercise.


The facility will also boast a secure entry/exit system to screen for contraband items; a central security station that provides security services 24 hours a day, seven days a week; a highly secure outdoor yard area with no-climb fencing; clear lines of sight from the security and nurse observation areas to enhance the safety of patients, employees, and visitors; a secured and separate space for staff; security cameras; door and elevator access control systems; outdoor security lighting; controlled exterior doors and gates; and a separate gated vehicle area for patient drop-off and pick-up to enhance the safety of patients, employees, visitors and the community.


DAGS is currently processing the contract and, barring any potential delay or legal objections, the contractor is expected to start work in March 2018. Site work is scheduled to begin in late summer of 2018. The construction is anticipated to take less than 3 years, allowing the hospital to begin using the new building in 2021.

According to the hospital’s 2015 Master Plan Update, there was a need to provide safe, efficient care for forensic, high-risk patients. The hospital was built as a 178-bed facility, but the census continues to exceed more than 200 patients. The census continues to rise because the hospital must by law accept the forensic patients from all islands who are ordered by the judiciary court system to the hospital for evaluations, care, and custody. Forensic patients can only be discharged following a complex evaluation process and a judge’s written authorization. The rising census and patient mix have made safety a top concern for patients, staff and the community.

To address this challenge, the building’s requirements were based on extensive research, borrowing proven best practices from other behavioral health facilities. The new building will provide a significantly enhanced physical design, separating higher risk patients from other patients.


The process to plan, design, and construct the new facility started with the 2015 Master Plan Update, followed by an Environmental Impact Statement that was completed in April 2017 and the Plan Review Use permit which was accepted by the City and County of Honolulu in December 2017.

“The contract award is a major milestone to improve patient care and provide a safe work environment for our employees.” said Director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health Dr. Virginia Pressler. “This new building has been one of our priorities and, with support from the Department of Accounting and General Services, we have been able to move this forward at a relatively fast pace.”

The Hawai‘i State Hospital is the only publicly-funded, adult state psychiatric hospital in Hawaii dedicated solely to serving patients with serious mental illness. The hospital’s mission is to provide safe, integrated, evidence-based psychiatric assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation to individuals suffering from brain, medical and behavioral disorders. Virtually all admissions to the hospital are forensic admissions, in which individuals are committed to the custody of the Department of Health by state courts and sent to the hospital.

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