BREAKING: Maui Hospital to Cut $28 Million in Services and Jobs
By Wendy Osher
In face of continued budget shortfalls, the Maui Region board for the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation voted to cut $28 million in services and positions for the Fiscal Year 2016.
According to an announcement today, board members said, “immediate cuts will be made to non-clinical and non-essential contracts that the hospital maintains, as well as 50 to 75 non-clinical administrative positions.”
The cuts were described as “nominal” compared to the shortfall cited by the board.
Hospital board members say the cuts will also affect various clinical service lines and positions.
Areas being reviewed for service cuts include: heart, surgical and intensive care units, oncology, obstetrics and gynecology services and physician call coverage. According to the announcement, the cuts may affect current services to all three of the region’s hospitals, which includes Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital.
Public input will be required in order to shut down certain services with community meetings to be announced once locations and times have been confirmed.
In a statement released this afternoon, Avery B. Chumbley, a member on the Maui Region board called the decision a difficult one, saying it came after the latest state budget projections.
“We are limited by the options that we have before us,” said Chumbley. “We knew this day was going to happen, and while we understand the state cannot continue to fund our financial shortfalls, for three years we have asked the legislature to allow us to move forward on a public/private partnership so we could avoid this very day,” Sutherland said in a press release statement.
Maui Region Chief Executive Officer Wesley Lo also commented, saying, “this is a path we have refused to accept in response to the continued financial shortfalls of our region; however, it is now time to address this issue head on, and that involves accepting the reality of our situation.”
Late last year, we learned that the state run hospital system requested $150 million in financial assistance from the state legislature, but was appropriated $111.4 million for fiscal year 2014. The shortfall forced HHSC to begin cost cutting measures and re-evaluate its initiatives on all islands, according to information released during a legislative hearing on Maui.
Lo said underscored the impacts, saying, “The cuts to our hospitals, facilities, staffing and services we provide our communities will set us back 20 years.”
In November, hospital executives met with lawmakers to discuss the issue saying they did not have investment capital to grow new services, and to adapt to the Affordable Care Act. Supporters said the partnership would bring the Maui Memorial Medical Center up to speed and avoid the growing pains and delays which would occur if challenges were mounted alone.
A measure that remains alive in the state legislature is HB1075, HD2, which passed through the Senate Health Committee last week and is being recommended for referral to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor and the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
The bill would authorize the Maui Regional System to enter into an agreement with a private entity to transition one or more of its facilities into a new private Hawaiʻi nonprofit corporation.
The Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation has also launched a “Heal Our Hospitals” campaign as state run hospitals on Maui deal with budget shortfalls and administrators push for the support of a public-private partnership.
The Maui Region of HHSC currently serves more than 11,000 inpatients and sees over 45,000 people in the emergency room each year.
Hospital administrators say they currently employ more than 1,500 individuals at Maui Memorial Medical Center alone.
The MMMC is the only full-service, acute-care medical facility in the county.