In the early-1900s, tuberculosis was called “consumption” or “black lung disease;” at that time, a tuberculosis outbreak hit Honolulu.
The “destitute and incurables” were transported to Kakaʻako for a while until a new place could be found. A temporary hospital, Victoria Hospital (also known as “home for incurables” and the “old kerosene warehouse,”) was set up on Queen and South streets.
Victoria Hospital (named in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897) had the responsibility to receive as in-patients “persons suffering from consumption or other so-called incurable diseases excepting leprosy.”
Shortly thereafter, Victoria Hospital was renamed the ‘Honolulu Home for Incurables’ (with the establishment of the Territorial Government and new burst of Americanism, there was criticism over the “British-sounding” name of the hospital.)
However, a better and bigger hospital was needed to take care of the overflowing masses of people coming in, and people wanted it in a dry location.
Subscribers were solicited for a new hospital; Kaimuki was selected. At about that time, Kaimuki was destined for growing development.
Gear, Lansing & Co. was proposing a 400-acre development with the intention “to divide the property into over 1,000 building lots, reserving suitable lands for parks, beer-gardens, hotels, churches, school-houses and saloons. The suburb will at some future day become an important ward in Honolulu.” (“A New Suburb,” an article from The Independent (Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii) July 18, 1898))
Originally charted in 1901 as the Honolulu Home for Incurables, its name was changed to the “Lēʻahi Home” in 1906. In 1942 the word “Hospital” was substituted for the word “Home.”
From 1900 to 1909 Dr. Archibald Neil Sinclair was city physician of Honolulu and from 1900 to 1919 was also associated with the United States Public Health Service as acting assistant surgeon.
Sinclair was made a director of Lēʻahi Home in 1900, and from 1911 to 1916 was physician in charge of the tuberculosis bureau and bacteriological department of the Territorial Board of Health.
By September 1902, the buildings that became Lēʻahi Hospital contained an administration building and four wards on a six acre site.
In the 1940s, Lēʻahi Hospital grew from a four ward building into a modern hospital. It served as the safeguard of the tuberculosis control in the Territory of Hawai‘i.
It initially took patients with all types of chronic and incurable diseases, then in the early 1950s began accepting only diagnosed and suspected cases of tuberculosis.
The hospital has been expanded and modernized over the years with skilled nursing, rehabilitative services and outpatient services, including an adult day health program, geriatric clinic and elder-law counseling for elderly residents in the community.
Lēʻahi Hospital transitioned to providing nursing home and adult day health services, in addition to continuing the provision of institutional tuberculosis care.
The facility is located on Kilauea Avenue, across from the Kapiʻolani Community College.
Lēʻahi is one of 12 public health facilities managed by the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, a semi-autonomous state agency that administers twelve State hospitals.