STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
Kahuku Hospital announced in November that it would be forced to close due to serious financial problems, but the state is providing emergency funds to keep it open through May.
Kahuku Hospital will use emergency funds
The Legislature passes a bill giving $950,000 to keep the site open
Kahuku Hospital is getting $950,000 in emergency funds from the Legislature that will allow it to remain open through May.
By then it is the goal of lawmakers and the Lingle administration to have the 25-bed private hospital be run by the state as part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp.
"We need to make sure that services are provided for all of the North Shore," said Rep. Michael Magaoay (D, Schofield-Kahuku).
Legislation was prompted by the hospital's announcement in November that it would be forced to close because of serious financial troubles.
The funding measure, Senate Bill 1260, passed 25-0 out of the Senate earlier this month and advanced unanimously out of the House yesterday.
It now goes to Gov. Linda Lingle for approval. Lingle said yesterday she did not foresee any delay in releasing the money.
"It's very important out on the North Shore, to the communities there and the region," Lingle said. "When minutes make a difference, it's important to have a hospital that close to the community."
Magaoay said lawmakers will focus now on winning passage of House Bill 843, which would allow the hospital to be acquired by the Health Systems Corp., which operates 12 community hospitals for the state.
The bill has been heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which has scheduled a decision-making hearing for Wednesday.
"With the community support we have and the people out there, we're going to make sure it passes," Magaoay said.
State Health Director Chiyome Fukino said the Lingle administration has been working closely with the Legislature to help win passage of both measures.
"This is a very strong bipartisan effort," she said. "This represents a committed effort on the part of the Legislature and the administration to ensure health care services in our rural community."
Eric Beaver, president of the hospital's board of directors, said Kahuku Hospital has been working for the past few years to become part of a larger health care system.
"We knew as a stand-alone, independent hospital in a rural place with a small customer base, it was going to be a challenge," Beaver said. "We're finally now at a point where we think that it makes most sense for the state to step in and help.
"It being more of a public policy issue than a market policy issue, we felt that it made sense for all of us as taxpayers to want this critical resource in our community."