Hawaii Health Systems Corporation’s Maui Region board voted earlier this week to cut $28 million in services and positions at Maui Memorial Medical Center for the upcoming fiscal year.
The decision, reported Friday, came after the latest State budget projections.
“Because of the age of the hospital, because the infrastructure that’s there, there’s a lot of money that needs to go into the entire system. The hospital’s administration has been trying desparately to be able to work within the budget that the state allocates it, but it’s falling woefully short,” said Maui County mayor Alan Arakawa. “The projection that was given to the state legislature was that for the next 10 years, they can expect a deficit of about $800 million.”
Immediate cuts will be made to non-clinical and non-essential contracts that the Wailuku hospital maintains, as well as 50 to 75 non-clinical administrative positions.
The cuts will also affect various clinical service lines and positions and will require public input in order to shut down various services. Community meetings are currently being set and will be announced once places and times have been confirmed.
The cuts may affect current services at the region’s two other hospitals, Lanai Community Hospital and Kula Hospital. Services such as heart, surgical and intensive care units, oncology, obstetrics and gynecology services and physician call coverage are currently being reviewed for service cuts.
“The cuts to our hospitals, facilities, staffing and services we provide our communities, will set us back 20 years,” said region CEO Wesley Lo.
“We knew this day was going to happen,” said board member Avery B. Chumbley, “and while we understand the state cannot continue to fund our financial shortfalls, for three years we have asked the legislature to allow us to move forward on a public/private partnership so we could avoid this very day.”
“It would be devastating to this community to see us start losing services,” added Lo.
Cries for change seem to have gone unnoticed. “We’ve been talking about this for two to three years now,” said Maui Mayor, Alan Arakawa.
He is talking about the move to a public private partnership for Maui Memorial Medical Center. A Partnership many hope would help fix some major financial problems for the currently state run hospital. “For the longest time the state has not put in money to be able to upkeep the hospital,” said Mayor Arakawa.
One reason for the cuts is the state cannot continue to fund the hospitals financial shortfalls. “You’re looking at literally billions of dollars that will have to go into the hospital to be able to get them up to where they should be if the state continues to control it,” said Mayor Arakawa.
“Jobs will be lost and services for our community,” said Lo.
So why was something not done sooner?
“Well there’s always been this back and forth contention that we shouldn’t have private hospitals or we should have private hospitals,” said Senator Josh Green, Senate Health Committee chairman.
Senator Green has been aware of the problem for years and has been pushing for a change.
“I think everyone has to get on board with some changes to the system,” said Senator Green. “I’m not casting any blame it’s just healthcare economics don’t work well in Hawaii and Maui Memorial needs someone to partner with.”
So is anything being done?
“Our bill 1075 which was passed to committee last week that allows for them to basically partner with Hawaii Pacific Health that appears to be the plan,” said Senator Green, but until a final decision is made many will continue to worry about the future of Maui’s only full service medical facility.
“We can’t afford to lose any services and that’s what we hurt today if we don’t do something,” said Senator Green.