Chief of Staff: Maui Hospital Transfer Delay is “Devastating”
Days after the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a preliminary injunction to halt the transfer of Maui hospital operations from the state-operated hospital system to private contractor Kaiser Permanente, Maui Memorial Medical Center’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Ron Boyd, characterized the delay as an “unfortunate expectation.”
“Critical vendor and employment contracts are terminating, diagnostic equipment, supplies have all been adjusted to reflect a changeover. It is near impossible to simply reverse course; this will lead to drastic gaps in coverage with no capacity to fill. This delay is devastating to the forward momentum to offering better care to Maui County,” implored Dr. Boyd.
Agreeing with Dr. Boyd’s assessment, Wes Lo, Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation Maui Region’s Chief Executive Officer said, “with each day that goes by, the risk of not providing basic medical services to Maui County becomes actuality. We are already a system with reduced staff levels preparing for new leadership and operations. We are already a system that has divested critical operations in anticipation of new management. This injunction is a disservice to Maui County and our hands are tied with no recourse.”
Lo ended in saying, “we are working with the State to mitigate severe shortages in our services and staffing capacities. We are also working with the State to better understand the preliminary injunction. As service providers of the only acute care medical facility in Maui County, our goal has always been service to our community and even under these uncertain and difficult constraints it will remain our goal.“
In 2015, the state legislature passed a law ending the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation’s delivery of health care services at the three Maui facilities and transferring service delivery to a private operator.
On January 14, 2016, the Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation board and its regional board signed an agreement to transition to a new Kaiser entity, Maui Health Systems.
United Public Workers, representing some of the Maui hospital employees, sued to stop the transition from taking place in the case of United Public Workers v. Ige. On February 19, 2016, United States District Court Judge Helen Gillmor ruled in favor of the State, and UPW appealed to the federal 9th Circuit Court.
On May 17, 2016, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals entered an order temporarily stopping activities related to the transition of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital & Clinic, and Lānaʻi Community Hospital to a private operator.
The order lasts only until September 30, 2016, unless sooner terminated by the Court. The Court also ordered the parties to the lawsuit to file a joint status report on or before June 30, 2016.