State aims for August
to reopen Maui child
psychiatric unit

WAILUKU >> State hospital officials hope to reopen the child psychiatric unit at Maui Memorial Medical Center by late August.

Chief Operating Officer Wesley Lo said hospital officials have four applicants for a full-time position as medical director of the child psychiatric unit and are working toward having several child psychiatrists to share on-call duties.

"We do have some reasonably good applicants now," he said. "We're getting a lot closer."

Maui Memorial officials held a community meeting at the hospital's auditorium yesterday to talk about their latest efforts to reopen the unit.

Lo said hospital officials have received a commitment from a child psychiatrist to share in the on-call duties.

But he said officials need to have a qualified medical director and two other child psychiatrists who would be willing to assist in on-call duties before setting a date for reopening the unit.

The unit closed on June 1 after two on-call child psychiatrists left Maui.

Lo said the on-call duties at the unit would be shared to avoid "burn-out" and to be mindful about the physicians' quality of life.

Hospital officials said that since the closure, two Maui children have been referred to the child psychiatric unit at the Queen's Medical Center on Oahu.

Officials said Maui Memorial continues to accept children requiring emergency psychiatric care but the children are referred to hospitals on Oahu if they require inpatient services.

Susan Carroll, the hospital's clinical director of behavioral health, said finding child psychiatrists willing to work on-call hours at the hospital has been difficult because there is a great demand for them nationally.

"They can pretty much pick and choose where they want to go," she said.

Maui resident Penelope Olson, whose 6-year-old son is autistic, said she's glad that hospital officials are working with health service providers to find child psychiatrists.

But Olson, who also serves as a parent co-chairwoman for the Maui Community Children's Council, said she's afraid her son may need assistance while there is no child psychiatric unit.

"It's still a touch-and-go feeling," she said.

Hospital officials have scheduled another meeting about the child psychiatric unit on July 15 starting 9 a.m. at the hospital's auditorium.


E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --