Panel OKs second Maui hospital
Lingle, Maui Mayor Arakawa and others support the proposed Malulani Center
WAILUKU » A state health advisory committee has recommended approving a second hospital on the Valley Isle that could take $55 million in revenues from Maui Memorial Medical Center.
"This facility can be a win-win for the community and the state," said George Kaya, Gov. Linda Lingle's liaison on Maui, noting that Maui Memorial and the proposed Malulani Health and Medical Center can complement each other.
Kaya said the governor supports the development of the Malulani center because she believes the ability of the state to build a new hospital is limited.
The Tri-Isle Subarea Health Planning Council's recommendation yesterday followed two days of public hearing and scores of testimonies, including statements by Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and Lingle in support of the proposed privately financed hospital.
The recommendation is scheduled to be reviewed by the Certificate of Need Review Panel and the Statewide Health Coordinating Council on Oahu this month, before being sent for a decision to Dr. David Sakamoto, the administrator of the State Health Planning and Development Agency.
Arakawa said some people are choosing to have their medical operations at hospitals on Oahu, because they don't have confidence in Maui Memorial.
Under the proposal by Triad Hospitals Inc. and the nonprofit Malulani Health Systems Inc., the privately financed medical center would be built on a 40-acre lot adjacent to the Maui Research and Technology Park in Kihei and provide a $211 million full-service hospital, including 150 beds, emergency care services, an open-heart surgery suite, and a hyperbaric decompression and wound treatment center.
Dr. Ronald Kwon, Malulani board chairman, said the hospital will accept Medicaid patients, the underinsured and the poor.
Triad operates 51 hospitals. Malulani is expected to be the 15th hospital it has built, if developed by 2009, Triad officials said.
Maui Memorial, serving as a "safety net" hospital accepting people with little or no money, has 202 beds and will have 231 beds in September after completing an expansion project.
The development of Malulani was also supported by a number of medical doctors, including Howard Barbarosh, representing the Maui County Medical Society, with 75 physicians as members.
"The state has not kept up with the population and its needs," Barbarosh said.
Some nurses at Maui Memorial testified about the lack of space and services, including critical care for some newborn infants who have to be transferred to Oahu hospitals.
Wesley Lo, chief executive officer at Maui Memorial, said he wasn't against expanded medical services on the island.
But Lo said there was a need for comprehensive planning and the proposal for Malulani had "fatal flaws."
Lo said if Malulani is built, Maui Memorial will lose about $55 million in revenues.
Maui Memorial fiscal officer Russell Johnson said Malulani has overestimated the demand for medical services and underestimated expenses, including wages for nurses.