LIHUE, Hawaii — Following an extensive, $5.1 million renovation, the emergency department at Wilcox Medical Center is now offering Kauai residents access to state-of-the-art trauma care to a degree never seen on the island.

What You Need To Know

  • Renovations began in 2020

  • Funding came from indivdual private donations

  • Wilcox is Kauai’s only Level III Trauma Center and the first in Hawaii to be verified by the American College of Surgeons. 

  • The new facility includes two trauma suites and multiple specialty rooms

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami and other state and county leaders joined hospital administrators and staff for a blessing of the site on Tuesday and celebrated the facilities’ first major upgrade since it first opened in 1995. 

The department remained open throughout the renovation, which began in 2020. Funding for the project came from private contributions by Jenn Gross and Peter Stengaard, Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, descendants of the Wilcox family, physicians and staff, members of Kauai’s business community and others.

Wilcox is Kauai’s only Level III Trauma Center and the first in Hawaii to be verified by the American College of Surgeons. 

The redesigned emergency department features two trauma resuscitation suites, as well as several specialized care rooms.

The trauma suites improve efficiency. Both are twice the size of the previous rooms, allowing health care workers to smoothly and safely move patients and equipment in and around the area. 

“We know how devastating a trauma incident can be, especially for our small community,” said Wilcox Health president and CEO Jen Chahanovich. “Most of these medical emergencies involve multiple patients who need care simultaneously. We know that investing in these state-of-the-art trauma suites will continue to elevate the emergency care for the people on Kauai.”

There are three specialty rooms equipped for negative pressure, which can be used for patients suspected of having an infectious disease. The negative pressure prevents air from flowing out into other areas, helping to contain airborne diseases.

The new facility also features a room dedicated to treatment of patients with behavioral or mental health issues. The room is equipped with advanced video technology that will allow staff and specialists to engage with patients via telehealth. 

Other specialty rooms meet the specific pediatric and OB-GYN needs. Also, whereas some spaces were previously separated by curtains, all patient care areas are now completely private.

The facility averages 25,000 emergency visits and 450 trauma activations a year, according to Wilcox Health.

Michael Tsai covers local and state politics for Spectrum News Hawaii.