East Hawaiʻi Regional Board Evaluating Alliance Prospects for Hospitals
By Maui Now Staff
As Maui hospitals undergo a search to secure a public-private partnership, hospitals in East Hawaiʻi are looking for viable solutions as well to deal with budget shortfalls and service cuts.
The East Hawaiʻi Region reportedly faced a $7 million budget shortfall this year, which resulted in 87 workers (about 7% of the East Hawaiʻi Region’s workforce) losing their jobs due to service cutbacks and service closures, officials said.
The Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation East Hawaiʻi Region Board, which represents the area that includes Hilo Medical Center, Kaʻū Hospital and Hale Hoʻola Hamakua, is now evaluating alliance prospects to deal with the impacts.
The three hospitals include 373 beds and over 1,300 employees and a medical staff comprised of 250 physicians, physician assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, representing 33 specialties. Hilo Medical Center functions as a Level III Trauma Center, which includes the second busiest emergency room in the state, providing 24-hour care and serving more than 44,000 patients annually. Hale Hoʻola Hamakua and Kaʻū Hospital are designated as Critical Access Hospitals.
“Our Board, as responsible stewards of our commitment to healthcare, has set a very high priority on the examination of several potential options to better provide for the needs of our community,” said Kurt Corbin, Board Chair of Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation East Hawaiʻi Region in a press release today.
“The prospect of a strategic alliance with another healthcare organization is one of these options that merits a serious evaluation,” said Corbin.
According to a board announcement, a recent inquiry from Castle Medical Center, a member of Adventist Health, will result in a site visit to the three East Hawaiʻi hospitals later this month.
Castle has served windward Oʻahu for over 50 years and Adventist Health owns and operates 20 hospitals, 230 clinics and several home health agencies in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaiʻi.
“These preliminary talks will allow us to exchange views on compatibility of our organization’s missions and to identify resources and strengths that could potentially be shared to enhance the delivery of sustainable healthcare for our community,” said Corbin. “It’s much too early to speculate on the prospects of an outcome.”
East Hawaiʻi Regional CEO of Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation Dan Brinkman also commented saying, “Our mission is to improve our community’s health through exceptional and compassionate care. Frankly, the road ahead is even more financially challenging in our journey to achieve long-term sustainability and we must be open to all viable solutions.”