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VIDEO: Maui Hospital on Track for July 1st Transition

March 31, 2017, 5:55 AM HST · Updated April 1, 6:48 AM
Wendy Osher · 6 Comments
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Interview with Dr. Barry Shitamoto

The Maui Memorial Medical Center is on track to transition to Kaiser on July 1, 2017, as part of a public/private partnership approved by the state in 2015.  In just three months, Kaiser Permanente will assume responsibility for the operation of the Maui Region’s three hospitals–the Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and the Lāna‘i Community Hospital.

Dr. Barry Shitamoto, Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corp. Maui Region interim CEO said, “As we wind down towards July 1st, there are so many transition activities that we need to get done that require just about everyone’s input from every discipline in the hospital, so it’s a big task.”

In 2015, the State of Hawaii passed Act 103 allowing Maui Region to pursue public private partnership to promote a more sustainable model of healthcare for our residents and visitors.

Hospital executives noted that the reimbursement for the MMMC has been declining, and Maui’s remote location also makes it difficult to attract all of the specialty services that are needed.

“This allows us to expand our services and not shrink our services, to keep our services on Maui, to keep our community here on Maui rather than to go to Honolulu or elsewhere for services.  It’s just a wonderful opportunity that we had, more than any other neighbor island (like the Big Island or Kauaʻi), so we’ve been really lucky and blessed,” said Dr. Shitamoto.

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In September of 2015, the Maui Region Board of Directors selected Kaiser Permanente to assume operation and management of the Maui Region, setting a transition date of July 1, 2016. The transition was delayed when UPW sued the State to stop the transition, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved the injunction in August (2016) to allow transition activities to resume.

When asked what does a partnership with a company like Kaiser mean to the staff and community, Dr. Shitamoto responded saying, “Kaiser is a big organization nationally with great resources and great processes, and they do health care very well as evidenced by their large membership all throughout the country.  They’ll be able to bring their processes here and improve our processes here–our services, our deliverables, they’ll expand our services–and it gives us that opportunity to really provide our community better health care.”

Maui Region employs over 1,500 people, and serves over 11,000 inpatients with more than 45,000 people visiting the emergency room each year.  MMMC is a Level III Trauma Center, with the 2nd highest acuity and 2nd busiest ED in the state.

As the only acute-care hospital on island, we asked Dr. Shitamoto if the transition would have any impact on who Kaiser cares for and their level of services.

“I think our community is just right–geographically, and the way everything is situated just by having one hospital–some people think it’s a disadvantage, however, having one hospital puts all the resources in one area and that is why we are able to provide many different services all at one location,” said Dr. Shitamoto.

“The hospital is an economic driver in our community, as you know, having employed approximately 1,600 employees, many of whom have served for decades.  They’re all talented nurses, physical therapists, radiology technologists, and other technicians–but they’re all very talented and all very well trained,” said Dr. Shitamoto.

“Going through the transition over the past two years has been extremely difficult for them and for their families, but they continue to serve selfelessly.  As we go through this difficult transition, and as it gets harder and harder the next three months, they continue to be dedicated to our community and our patients.  So I give them lots of credit for their extreme dedication to our health care on Maui.”

Maui Region is comprised of Lana’i Community Hospital, Kula Hospital and Maui Memorial Medical Center.

*Videographer Marlo Antes; Video Edit by Wendy Osher; Story by Wendy Osher

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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