Monday, February 22, 1999

Hana residents
fear reduction of
clinic’s hours

The facility needs $1 million
a year but received only $800,000
in the last fiscal year

By Gary T. Kubota


HANA, Maui -- Residents in the rural community of Hana say lives could be jeopardized if their medical clinic is inadequately funded and is forced to reduce its hours of operation.

Resident Vicki Castro said the Hana Community Health Center helped save her husband Randolph's life about a year ago when he had a heart attack.

Castro said a physician at the health center assisted in stabilizing her husband's condition by administering a drug that thins the blood and reduces blood clots.

Castro, who is a health center board member, and others say this kind of medical service would be unavailable without the health center.

State Rep. Hemina Morita, who represents east Maui and a portion of Kauai, said the center needs $1 million a year for its operation and received only $800,000 during the last fiscal year.

Morita said the clinic may have to reduce its operating schedule from seven to four days if it does not receive $200,000 by March 1.

She said she doesn't know if lawmakers can get a bill passed in time to meet the deadline.

Morita said she feels the state Legislature should authorize the money since the nonprofit health center has been operating more efficiently than when it was run by the state a few years ago.

"It used to cost the state over $1.5 million to run the hospital with less services," she said.

Morita said the state Legislature approved allowing the health center to become an independent nonprofit group in 1996, with the understanding that the state would financially support it, especially during its transitional phase.

She said it has never been fully funded.

There have been four cases in the last year in which a physician at the clinic has been able to minimize damage to patients suffering from a stroke or heart attack, she said.

Castro said the health center not only helped to save her husband's life but also is used by others in her family, including her 91-year-old mother Ethel Kamai. Her mother is unable to travel long distances for treatment.

Hana resident Madeline Helekahi said the health center is a lifeline for many residents.

She said her 19-year-old daughter, who has a rheumatic heart, relies upon the health center for her monthly treatments.

"The health center is very important," Helekahi said.

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