Alii Health Center employees say their patients used to joke that trying to find parking at some of the center’s five offices was causing high blood pressure.
That excuse is gone now that the center has consolidated its offices into two suites in the Keauhou Shopping Center, employees said as they walked through the new work space earlier this week.
The center is holding a private blessing ceremony tonight, but it started seeing patients in early July, after months of planning the move.
“The accessibility, the central location, it’s great for physicians” and patients, Executive Director Debra Sundberg said. The offices are just 10 minutes from Kona Community Hospital, which they can reach easily via the Mamalahoa bypass, she added. “We are in the perfect spot.”
Sundberg negotiated a 10-year lease that included the cost of renovations. In turn, the health center now has 8,400 square feet of space, compared with 5,600 square feet of space in its previous offices.
Walls are still somewhat bare — she’s looking for local artists who might be interested in displaying artwork in the clinics — and equipment is still arriving, but the new offices are “functional,” Sundberg said.
The new digs aren’t the only reason for the center to be celebrating. As of November, the clinics will have added four new doctors this year, including an obstetrician who starts next month and an orthopedic surgeon who arrives Nov. 1, Sundberg said. The obstetrician will also look to hire a nurse midwife, she said.
Alii Health’s surgeons will now be able to do more procedures in-house. The clinic has also added an X-ray machine.
With those additions, the clinic will have completely filled the new offices. That’s OK, Sundberg said. Next comes at least a year of increasing the clinic’s patient load and getting the new doctors settled in. At that point, she said, she might start thinking about recruiting and expanding again.
“What we need now is some time to get all of this running smoothly and well,” Sundberg said. “We’ve done this burst of growth. It’s aggressive to bring in four new doctors at once.”
The expanded office space, and updated equipment, helped attract some of the newer doctors, she added.
“It’s important not just to get them here, but keep them here,” Sundberg said.
The center, which is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., gets $600,000 in subsidies annually.