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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 28, 2002

Health center board probes allegations

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

WAIMANALO — The board of directors for the Waimanalo Health Center held a closed meeting for about three hours last night and heard from the center's executive director, who has been placed on leave without pay while the board investigates charges of misuse of money and mismanagement.

But at the end of the meeting, the board was not able to resolve the issues and will continue to gather more information, said Peter Kama, the board's president. "We just want to make sure the process is fair," he said.

The 10 directors met at the center's Waimanalo offices and heard from executive director Kawahine Kamakea-Ohelo, who has been replaced by Dr. Charman Akina, the center's medical director. The board also heard from other center workers.

Kamakea-Ohelo and the board members declined to comment about what was said at the closed-door session. Kamakea-Ohelo's lawyer and the board's lawyer were also at the meeting.

Allegations against Kamakea-Ohelo, one of the founding members of the center 10 years ago, were presented to the board of directors Dec. 5. The board then decided to replace her.

On Dec. 8, Sen. Fred Hemmings, R-25th (Kailua, Waimanalo), held a press conference and said Kamakea-Ohelo misused state and federal money and had been asked to step down. He also accused Kamakea-Ohelo of mismanaging money, intimidating employees of the center and hiring relatives who were not qualified for their jobs.

The next day, Akina and Kama declined to comment about the board's investigation into Kamakea-Ohelo's actions, but said Waimanalo residents were never left without critical services.

The center has a staff of 52, with a $3.2 million budget, serving about 4,000 people.