Wahiawa General Hospital in danger of closing

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Wahiawa General Hospital is in danger of closing if it doesn’t find the funds to keep its doors open.

If it closes, the effects could be catastrophic for a large portion of the island.

The hospital has lost $9 million over the last three years. A spokeswoman says declining in-patient admissions and reductions in government funding are partly to blame.

Built in 1944, Wahiawa General Hospital has served the people of Central Oahu and the North Shore for 72 years. It provides emergency services to areas extending from Mililani to Wahiawa, Waialua, Sunset and Kahuku — one-third of the entire island.

But financial troubles could spell doom for the nonprofit hospital, which could close within months.

“When the board of directors comes to me and says, ‘Marcus, if we don’t get help this session, within next six to nine months, we’ll have to make some hard choices,'” said State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village. “It would be catastrophic if Wahiawa General had to cut back on services, or even worse, we had to close.”

Wahiawa General is the largest private employer in Central Oahu, providing over 600 jobs.

Nurse supervisor Angelina Rodriguez said, “I rely on this job to bring income for my family. I have five children. My husband is in the military. The cost of living is higher here.”

She says her co-workers are hoping the hospital will be saved. “What am I gonna do? This is a small island and there’s only so many hospitals,” she said.

About 85 percent of patients that come to Wahiawa General are under Medicaid and Medicare. The nurses say a few of their patients have caught wind of the hospital’s financial troubles, and they are worried.

“If we were to shut down, the closest would be Ewa Beach, or Pali Momi in Aiea,” Oshiro said.

The representative is asking Gov. David Ige and the legislature for about $6 million to save Wahiawa General.

“We’re like any rural hospital, like in the neighbor islands,” Oshiro said. “We need the government’s help. We need the state to help us.”

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