Friday, September 17, 2004

Developers defend
plans for hospital
in south Maui

WAILUKU » A nonprofit group plans to build a 100-bed, acute-care community hospital and medical center in south Maui.

But Wesley Lo, Maui Memorial Medical Center's chief executive officer, said the addition of a second full-service hospital will degrade the quality of health care on the Valley Isle by diluting the island's resources.

Malulani Health Systems, the developer of the south Maui hospital, hopes to open its door in three to four years, said Chairman and President Dr. Ron Kwon.

Kwon said the group plans to blend Western, folk, and alternative medicine, including acupuncture, yoga and homeopathy. He said it will be applying for a certificate of need from the state Health Planning and Development Agency before the end of the year.

Kwon, who is on the medical staff of the state-run Maui Memorial Medical Center, said the Valley Isle has a "critical" shortage of acute-care beds and the group was trying to fill the need.

He said Maui has the lowest ratio of hospital beds per 1,000 population in the state and the highest occupancy rate for medical beds per 1,000 population.

"Those two statistics by themselves tell you there's a need," Kwon said.

Lo said the Hawaii Health System Corporation that operates Maui Memorial and other community hospitals in the state is "extremely concerned" about Maui's ability to have enough resources to sustain two hospitals.

He said Maui Memorial has plans for major expansion, including a new wing that would add 80,000 square feet to the existing 310,000 square feet and a new medical office building.

Kwon said the group has an option to develop 40 acres in Kihei, adjacent to the Maui Research and Technology Park.

The group's board will be holding informational meetings, one on Thursday at the Kihei Community Center and another on Sept. 27 at the Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m.



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