State agency seeks details about Maui hospital plan
A state official who will decide whether to approve a proposed new hospital on Maui told the facility's backers on Thursday to submit detailed plans for how they expected to hire doctors and nurses in the island's tight labor market.
Dr. David Sakamoto, administrator of the State Health Planning and Development Agency, spoke after a panel heard testimony on whether Maui needed the proposed Malulani Health and Medical Center.
Critics of the planned $212 million, 150-bed hospital facility told the panel that Malulani wouldn't be able to find enough staff for the hospital. They cited Maui's low unemployment rate as well as a reluctance by professionals living off-island to move to Maui because of its high cost of living.
Sakamoto asked Dr. Ron Kwon, leader of the local effort to build the hospital, to provide more details about Malulani's personnel plans.
Backers of Malulani say the hospital would enable more Maui residents to stay on the island for their medical needs, noting that one of out eight people now leave the island for health care.
Opponents say Malulani would lower the quality of care on Maui by siphoning off precious resources from the island's only existing hospital, the state subsidized Maui Memorial Medical Center, which opposes the new hospital.
Maui Memorial officials have said it would lose patients and millions of dollars in revenue if Maui had two hospitals.
Sakamoto also asked Kwon and his mainland partners, the Triad Hospital Corp., to provide the panel with information they used to estimate figures such as Malulani's projected payroll.
The Certificate of Need Review Panel has until Sept. 30 to decide whether to approve Malulani's application. A regional panel, the Tri-Isle Subarea Planning Council, gave its approval for the plan on July 11.
Sakamoto will make the final decision on the application but he has not overturned any of the recommending panels' judgments in his three years as agency head.