Lingle in favor of new Maui hospital
The governor thinks that Maui Memorial is not adequate for Maui
Testimony opposing a second hospital on Maui has reinforced Gov. Linda Lingle's support for it.
"I feel even stronger that this is the right thing to do for the people of Maui," she said after listening to opponents at a Statewide Health Coordinating Council hearing yesterday in Honolulu.
A standing-room-only crowd filled the room to consider Malulani Health and Medical Center's Certificate of Need application. The hearing was recessed and will continue at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
Maui Memorial Medical Center officials argued that a second hospital will have a negative impact on Maui Memorial and not improve health care on the Valley Isle.
However, the proposal by Triad Hospitals Inc. and the nonprofit Malulani Health Systems Inc. was strongly endorsed by many doctors and nurses who work at Maui Memorial and island residents concerned about health care.
Lingle told the council she had appeared before a board or commission only one other time in her four years in office.
"I have made the choice to appeal to you in person today because I believe so strongly that this Certificate of Need should be granted," she told them.
The former Maui mayor and County Council member said Maui Memorial "has done its best," but it cannot provide all the health care needed by the growing population. The state also is unlikely to fund any major improvements there, Lingle said.
"I can appreciate that you are feeling a lot of political pressure," Wesley Lo, Maui Memorial regional chief executive officer, told the council.
"But despite these political and emotional appeals, this panel was created to uphold the law and to eliminate the politics of the situation," he said.
He said the Malulani project "is flawed and will not improve the health care on Maui or the state and, in fact, may have a detrimental effect on the entire system."
Senate Health Chairwoman Rosalyn Baker, who represents South and West Maui, said she does not oppose a new hospital, but has concerns about the effects of the new facility on the community "as well as Malulani's ability to deliver on all of its promises."
Gail Miyahira, Maui Memorial administrative services officer, pointed to changes in Malulani's proposal. Among them, it began as a nonprofit community organization with a 100-bed hospital and now calls for a for-profit 150-bed hospital, she said, cautioning the council, "Buyer beware. The devil is always in the details."
The Tri Isle Subarea Health Planning Council approved Malulani's Certificate of Need July 11 after a two-day hearing and testimony from Maui Memorial "that was full of misrepresentations," said Dr. Ronald Kwon, Malulani board chairman.
After reviewing the application and testimony, the Statewide Health Coordinating Council will send a decision to Dr. David Sakamoto, state Health Planning and Development Agency administrator.
Dr. Michael May, neuroradiologist who practiced at Maui Memorial from 1998 to 2004, said its physicians and staff "are excellent, but there is an archaic and limiting infrastructure that erodes the efficiency and growth of the hospital that pervade all departments, including radiology.
"It just makes good sense to have this new hospital. ... It would mean we could get the right equipment with the upfront cash, provide an architectural design that is up to date and maybe even attract some good doctors, me included."