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Star Advertiser: Leeward Oahu veterans clinic finally moves forward

April 9, 2021

After years of delays, Veterans Affairs is moving ahead with an 88,675-square-foot outpatient clinic in Kalaeloa named after former Hawaii U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka which is expected to greatly improve access to veteran care when it opens in the fall of 2024.

The popular Akaka, who represented Hawaii for 36 years in Congress and died in 2018, envisioned the project that became the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Healthcare Access, or ALOHA, clinic, officials said.

“Leeward Oahu veterans have been waiting for years for a new facility that would improve their access to health care closer to home,” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said in a release. “This lease award brings us one step closer to making the ALOHA project a reality for these veterans and is progress toward fulfilling the vision of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, who first spearheaded this project working with local veterans.”

Hunt Cos. Inc. said it was selected to develop and construct the $100 million veterans outpatient facility in Kalaeloa. It said it will begin working with the VA on design development and anticipates a groundbreaking later this year.

“We worked very hard over the past four years to secure this facility in an area that will have an enormous impact on our community for generations to come,” Steve Colon, president of Hunt’s Hawaii Development Division, said in a release.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation said the multispecialty ALOHA clinic will provide primary care, mental health, audiology, X-ray, physical and occupational therapy, dental, prosthetics and specialty care for veterans in the area.

“The clinic will also reduce wait times, increase provider availability and help alleviate traffic challenges and parking deficits veterans currently experience on the Tripler Army Medical Center Campus, where the Spark M. Matsunaga Veterans Affairs Medical Center is located,” the lawmakers said.

Hirono and U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, both Hawaii Democrats, announced March 24 that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a resolution that was the final step for the VA to award a lease to construct the ALOHA clinic.

The resolution authorized the U.S. General Services Administration to provide approval to award a 15-year lease at an annual rent of $5.9 million for the project. It also authorized an upfront lump sum payment of $18 million toward construction, Kahele and Hirono said.

GSA noted in October that the project was initially approved as part of VA’s 2014 budget request and was subsequently authorized by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works in 2017.

However, after completing requirements development and market analysis, “VA’s attempts at procurement were unsuccessful as all offers were above the approved maximum rental rate,” GSA said.

GSA said the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center “is an oversubscribed multi-specialty clinic that treats over 25,000 veterans annually.”

“By consolidating the existing Veterans Health Administration clinic, Veterans Benefits Administration regional office, and VA Veterans Center in the Ewa Plain of Oahu, the proposed lease enables the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System to more efficiently provide services to veterans located on the island,” the GSA said.