Health center mismanagement alleged
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
The executive director of the Waimanalo Health Center has misused state and federal money and has been asked to step down from her position, state Sen. Fred Hemmings said yesterday.
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Sen. Fred Hemmings
Advertiser library photos
Hemmings, R-25th (Kailua, Waimanalo), made those and other accusations during a press conference yesterday at the health center. He said federal authorities had been informed of the situation and a federal investigation is under way. Federal authorities could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kamakea-Ohelo was contacted at her home yesterday afternoon and by telephone last night, and would not comment. But the president of the health center's board of directors disputed Hemmings' account and called his actions inappropriate.
Hemmings said Kamakea-Ohelo's abrupt firing of the center's diabetes case manager has left Waimanalo residents without critical services, and the use of money for personal items and entertainment had left the center without the money to pay for essential treatments.
He said the allegations came to light "after many former employees came forward with written or testimonial evidence of wrongdoing."
To support his case, Hemmings handed out packets of information, including credit card bills, salary information and employee letters.
He said that the Waimanalo Health Center board of directors had met Thursday night and directed its president, Peter Kama, to tell Kamakea-Ohelo to step down, but that she nonetheless remained in control.
When reached for comment last night, Kama said he was upset Hemmings had chosen to air the situation in public.
"He's making allegations that simply aren't true," Kama said. "And the things that are true, we are working on. I think in the end it will all be cleared up, and if people did something wrong they will be dealt with appropriately and not on television and in the newspapers."
Kama would not say what had happened during the board meeting Thursday or whether Kamakea-Ohelo had been asked to step down.
"Certain board actions and personnel actions are confidential," he said.
Attempts to contact other board members last night were unsuccessful.
Hemmings contends Kamakea-Ohelo used federal and state contract money for personal gain, and that bank statements and financial receipts show that she spent between $3,000 and $10,000 monthly on food, clothing, gifts, trips and other items for herself or her family.
He said staff members were hired on the basis of their association with the director, not according to their credentials, and that staff members were fired for reasons that had led to more than one discrimination lawsuit filed against the center.
He said one of Kamakea-Ohelo's relatives is receiving food stamps by claiming he is homeless and using the health center as his address, but actually lives with Kamakea-Ohelo in her Waimanalo home.
He also said Health Center equipment was improperly used in Democratic fund-raisers, and he accused Kamakea-Ohelo of bullying and abusing employees.
In support of his charges, he provided two letters from employees (with their names blacked out) that included allegations of misappropriation and abuse of employees.
Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or email@example.com.