Wahiawa General needs $6 million to stay afloat, CEO says


Money troubles for Wahiawa General Hospital threaten to shut it down.

As we first reported Sunday, the hospital has been hit with many financial problems over the years.

Hospital CEO Don Olden says it was able to survive through most of it by digging money out of “reserves,” but that money has since run out.

Olden believes the hospital could turn things around if the state grants an emergency fund. It would need $6 million over the next two years.

Olden says Wahiawa General has been losing money ever since Queen’s Medical Center – West Oahu in Ewa Beach opened in 2014, taking away a large chunk of patients.

“We’ve trimmed and trimmed and trimmed and squeezed and squeezed for a long time,” Olden said, but now there’s nothing left to “squeeze.”

The hospital needs $6 million from the state to stay afloat and execute a game plan.

“The discussion is going to have to occur. If there’s a possibility of doing something with someone outside of Hawaii, that will have to be pursued,” Olden said.

Olden wants to partner with other hospitals, like Queen’s Medical Center, Hawaii Pacific Health, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Kuakini Medical Center, Castle Medical Center, or Kaiser Permanente.

He says it could help with Hawaii’s shortage of doctors, as well as keep Wahiawa General’s critical services alive.

If Wahiawa General shuts down, ambulances will have to travel to the nearest hospital with emergency services — Pali Momi Medical Center in Aiea or Queen’s Medical Center in Ewa Beach.

“We may not appear to be, but we’re a country hospital, and we’re needed here. The answer is not to ship us down the road in H-2 in all that traffic,” said lab manager Paula Loya.

This isn’t the first time Wahiawa General has asked for help from the state.

“Why should taxpayers help?” KHON2 asked.

“Well, the amount of help involved to us, in relative terms, is peanuts. The marginal cost to the taxpayer to support Wahiawa hospital in this bridge period of time, it’s so minor it’s almost inconsequential,” replied Olden.

“But can you promise the taxpayers that the $6 million you’re asking for won’t be wasted?” KHON2 pressed.

“I don’t think it’s a waste, in my mind. I think it will be a waste if it’s not done,” said Olden.

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