Hawai‘i Island lawmakers secure funding for expansion of Hilo Medical Center

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Hilo Medical Center

Hawaiʻi Island lawmakers successfully secured $50 million in capital improvement project funds in the state budget for the expansion of Hilo Medical Center. The funds are designated for the construction and equipment for the intensive care unit and the expansion of the medical surgical unit.

Construction is planned to start at the beginning of 2024 for the new 19-bed Intensive Care Unit and 36 additional hospital beds for Hawaiʻi Island’s largest hospital and designated Level III Trauma Center located in Hilo.

“This appropriation marks the culmination of several years of work to bring this effort to fruition, which began in 2020 when Hilo Medical Center first approached the Hawaiʻi Island Delegation regarding the need to accommodate the growing demand for services from the East Hawaiʻi Community,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima.


Hilo Medical Center’s capacity has been unchanged since its construction in 1985, while the island’s population has dramatically increased over the last 38 years. These additional ICU and hospital beds will allow the hospital to care for more patients on island and lessen the reliance on O‘ahu hospitals that have bed capacity issues of their own.

Nakashima, who represents Hāmākua, portion of Hilo and Kaʻūmana, said the funding request in 2020 was moved to Federal Funds in anticipation that federal money would be available for health care in light of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, the stars have aligned to allow us to announce the funding for a new wing for HMC, providing additional surgical and maternity beds for the Hawaiʻi Island Community,” Nakashima said.


Dan Brinkman, CEO of Hilo Medical Center, said the funding for the expansion of the hospital is a huge win for the communities in East Hawai’i and for Hawai‘i Island.

“We are excited about the improvements in care we can offer our family, friends, and neighbors,” Brinkman said. “We need to get busy building.”

Brinkman thanked Nakashima as well as Rep. Chris Todd and Sen. Lorraine Inouye for their advocacy on the project.


“We are also very appreciative of Governor Green’s prioritization of this expansion and for his support of neighbor island healthcare,” Brinkman said. “Mahalo to House and Senate leadership for their support as there are many worthy projects and initiatives that were requested this session.”

Brinkman also expressed his appreciation to Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation’s East Hawaii Regional Board, noting the members had the foresight to plan and advocate for the needed expansion.

“The East Hawaii Regional Board has made a commitment to provide all urgent medical services on island that would be seriously compromised by the need to travel,” said Dr. Jerry Gray, East Hawaii Regional Board Chair. “If it needs to be done today, we want it to be available here. This commitment by the House, Senate, and Governor to help us with this major capital expenditure will move that goal toward reality.”

A final version of the State Budget Bill was approved on Tuesday night by House and Senate conferees. Both chambers will vote on the floor before it goes to the governor’s desk for signature.

“This funding is a massive win for the future of East Hawaiʻi and I am very excited our team was able to deliver,” said Todd, a democrat who represents a portion of Hilo, Keaukaha, Orchidlands Estate, ‘Āinaloa, Hawaiian Acres, Fern Acres, portions of Kurtistown and Keaʻau.

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