Lingle seeks law change to allow Maui hospital
Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she'll ask the Legislature to clear the way for a new hospital to be built on Maui by passing a law that would override a state panel's ruling against the facility.
"I will not stop in my efforts for a second hospital for the people of Maui," Lingle said in a statement.
The governor spoke one day after the State Health Planning and Development Agency rejected an appeal by Malulani Health Services by a 4-to-1 vote.
Lingle doesn't have the power to veto the agency's decision. The panel's ruling is final unless the Legislature changes the law.
Lingle hopes lawmakers will pass a bill creating a one-time exception, enabling Malulani to be built.
The state-subsidized Maui Memorial Medical Center is currently the only hospital on the island. Some Maui residents have complained it offers poor-quality health care and is incapable of serving the island's growing population.
In ruling against Malulani in October, agency director Dr. David Sakamoto said the proposed facility threatened to drag down the overall quality of health care in Maui County by competing with Maui Memorial for scarce resources.
On Monday, Sakamoto said he hoped Malulani and Maui Memorial would join forces to create a full-service hospital and one long-term care or nursing facility on the island.
The Maui News reported reaction to the rejection to the Malulani appeal yesterday:
Ron Kwon, head of Malulani, said the decision was "a terrible mistake. ... They'd rather talk about dollars than about improving health care and saving people's lives."
Malulani supporters showed their disappointment with the agency's ruling by booing Sakamoto at Monday's meeting, the newspaper reported.
Jan Shields, a neonatal nurse who moved from Maui to Oahu to work in her specialty, interrupted the panel members' discussions about rejecting Malulani's request, saying, "You have the blood of Maui patients and babies on your hand." Shields volunteered to leave the meeting after her outburst.