BREAKING: Expectant Maui Mothers Given Temporary Reprieve From Steep Rate Hike

July 28, 2017, 11:11 AM HST · Updated July 29, 6:26 AM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments
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Officials with the Maui Heath System today tell Maui Now that they plan to temporarily lift the $672 rate for a postpartum private room. The 350% rate hike was implemented on July 1, 2017, up from the previous $150 rate.

Expectant Maui mom, Katie Folio, is among those opposed to the rate increase. She tells Maui Now that while she’s happy to hear the rate increase will be delayed for her own birth, she is disappointed to hear that in six months it will be going back up again. (L to R) Jamil, Ruby and Katie Folio. PC: courtesy Folio ʻohana. Photo by Emma Whitney Photography.

A temporary six month delay is now being implemented after concerns were raised by new mothers and families who learned of the increase.

The rate hike was implemented amid the hospital management take over from a state run facility to a public private partnership with Maui Health System, a Kaiser Permanente affiliate, earlier this month.

MHS Communications Director Chastell Ely said a six month delay is being implemented to allow time for families to budget if they want to choose this service for a private Mother/Baby unit.

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Under current guidelines, husbands are not allowed to stay overnight in postpartum rooms unless the couple is able to secure a private room. While the availability of a private room is not guaranteed based on the number of mothers in labor at any given time, some mothers expressed concerns that they were unable to afford the increase; while others said allowing a father to spend those first few precious moments and days with a newborn should be a given.

Maui Now reported the increase on Tuesday when a doula and child birth educator raised the question at a meeting hosted by MHS in Kahului, organized to update the public on the transition of Kula Hospital & Clinic, Lānaʻi Community Hospital and Maui Memorial Medical Center to management under the Maui Health System.

“We regret that this issue has caused concern for new moms and families and sincerely appreciate this being brought to the attention of hospital leadership,” said Ely in a communication to Maui Now. “We agree that we should give pregnant mothers more time to plan for this change.”

“When a patient requests one of our two private rooms in Mother/Baby, that space is not available for another patient. It is our obligation to ensure that the private room rate actually covers the costs associated with using a double room as a single, private room,” said Ely.

Ely said it is important for the “long-term sustainability” of the Maui Health System to ensure that its not-for-profit operations are “well run, are as fairly priced and as affordable as we can make them.” She said this is done, “all while we continue to deliver high-quality care.”

“Our obligation is to ensure that if we determine a significant change is needed, we will communicate it fully,” said Ely.

Katie Folio (in foreground) and Nicole Skillern (middle) were among those who questioned the cost for a postpartum private room at the Maui Memorial Medical Center, which increased 350% during the transition, from $150 to $672. PC: Wendy Osher

One expectant mother who attended Tuesday’s meeting tells Maui Now that while she’s happy to hear the rate increase will be delayed for her own birth, she is disappointed to hear that in six months it will be going back up again.

“I sincerely hope that the hospital will consider expanding the Mother/Baby department in the future to allow for more private rooms,” said Katie Folio, a Kula resident who is due in mid-August with her second child.

“I know that space is limited, but this is one area of the hospital where there is and will continue to be a large demand in our community, and at the forum it was stated that it only makes sense to expand in those areas of higher need (vs. for example, a burn unit when there was only one burn victim last year),” she said.  “So it seems like an area where expansion would make sense.  We need more private rooms, not less. And at affordable prices,” said Folio.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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