In King Kamehameha IV’s initial speech to the legislature in 1854, the King voiced his desire to create a hospital for the people of Hawai’i. Queen Emma enthusiastically supported the dream of a hospital, and the two campaigned tirelessly to make it a reality. Hawaiians called the hospital and dispensary Hale Ma‘i o ka Wahine Ali‘i (literally, sick house of the lady chief,) or Hale Ma‘i for short. Opening day was August 1, 1859.
While there was no specific provision in the hospital’s charter for free medical service to native Hawaiians, “all native Hawaiians have been cared for without charge, while for others a charge has been made of from $1 to $3 per day.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, July 31, 1901) In part, the Hospital was funded with government funds (taxes and appropriations.) (Each passenger arriving from a foreign port paid a tax of $2 to the Collector of Customs for the support of such hospitals.) However, under the provisions of the Organic Act the Legislature has no power to give a subsidy to any institution and funding support stopped.