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ISLAND HISTORY: History of the old Lihu‘e Plantation Dispensary

Hawaiian sugar plantations provided free medical care for their employees and dependents at hospitals and at plantation dispensaries, several of which were located on Kaua‘i.

In her book “Personal Recollections of Growing Up on Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, in the 1950s and 1960s,” my wife, Ginger Beralas Soboleski, described two visits to the Lihu‘e Plantation Dispensary, which closed in 1966 and was later demolished.

She wrote: “The plantation dispensary was located on Ahukini Road, about where an entrance road now leads into Walmart. Plantation employees and their families, and the general public from Puhi to Kapa‘a, went to that dispensary. The first time I remember going to the dispensary was in the 1950s, when I was a little girl. I needed stitches on my head after a board thrown toward a rubbish pile hit me. My Uncle Pete hadn’t realized that I was on the other side of the pile. The board landed on my head and opened a big gash. Another time, I went to see if a doctor could take away the rash on my chest and my stomach. I was about 9 years old. Dr. Morgan had me lie in a bathtub filled with water and medicine. I soaked my body for two hours and was cured. Cousin Camellia Ditch and Charlene Medrano came with me.”

Among old-time Kaua‘i plantation dispensary doctors there were: Dr. Jay Kuhns (1884-1964), who practiced as physician of Makee Sugar Co., Lihu‘e Plantation and Grove Farm Plantation, and was Ni‘ihau’s doctor; Dr. Webster Boyden (1895-1985), a plantation physician at Makee Sugar Co, and Dr. Samuel Wallis (1903-73), chief physician and surgeon for Lihu‘e Plantation, Grove Farm Plantation and Hawaiian Canneries, and consulting surgeon at McBryde Sugar Co. and Mahelona Hospital.

Dr. Patrick Cockett (1911-94) ran the Lihu‘e Plantation dispensary at Kealia for many years and the Lihu‘e Dispensary.

Other Lihu‘e Plantation Dispensary personal include: Pedro Jiminez, a pharmacist at Lihu‘e Dispensary in the 1940s; Violet Yaka Abe, a practical nurse during the 1950s; Masao Kashiwahara, who retired from Lihu‘e Dispensary in 1953 after 40 years service, and Ruperto Santos who worked there as an X-ray technician during the 1960s.
Source: The Garden Island

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