BREAKING: Board Selects Kaiser as Maui Hospital Partner
The Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation’s Maui Regional System Board today announced the selection of Kaiser Permanente as its choice to operate its facilities under a planned partnership.
In May Kaiser Permanente expressed interest in participating in the process for selection as Maui Memorial Medical Center sought a management company for a public private partnership.
A bill aimed at setting the groundwork for a public-private partnership passed into law this past legislative session as the hospital administration sought protections from potential job and service cuts due to a $28 million budget shortfall.
House Bill 1075 was singed into law in June, authorizing the Maui Region of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation to enter into negotiations for a public-private operational and management agreement.
HHSC’s Maui Region facilities – which include Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital – were authorized to transfer operations to a new entity through the bill, which became Act 103 upon the governor’s signing.
“As a board, we were grateful for the opportunity to talk to staff, physicians, and our friends and neighbors about what kind of healthcare model we want moving forward,” said Avery Chumbley, Maui Regional System Board Chair in a press release announcement this morning. “Kaiser Permanente provided us with its vision and strategy for improved healthcare in the Maui Region. We felt Kaiser Permanente could best serve the needs of our community,” said Chumbley.
According to the board announcement, “once negotiations are complete and a definitive agreement is executed, Kaiser Permanente will become the new operator of the Maui Region facilities. The Maui Regional System Board will serve as the custodial caretaker of the property with oversight over the performance of the terms and conditions of the lease.”
“We have a responsibility to meet the healthcare needs of our community, and we believe this transition provides us the greatest path forward to continue doing this,” said Wesley Lo, CEO of HHSC Maui Region in a statement. “Act 103 was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from our staff, physicians, past and current board members, and local leaders – our community will be better served thanks to their vision and determination.”
Among those expressing concern with the selection was Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Tsutsui said that if the community’s concerns and questions are not adequately addressed, he urged the Governor to consider halting negotiations if necessary, and committing to emergency funds need to keep the hospitals running until a “proper deal” can be negotiated.
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa responded to the news by releasing a statement saying, “The Maui Regional System Board has made its selection and I am
confident that it was in the best interests of everyone in Maui
“Their main goal is to get our primary medical care facility on stable financial footing so that Maui Memorial may better serve this community. That’s why we all fought so hard to push this private-public partnership through at the state legislature. Kaiser has been a good health care provider here on Maui and I am certain they will do a fine job managing our hospital,” said Mayor Arakawa.
Representatives with Kaiser Permanente released a statement following the announcement saying, they are “excited and honored” to be selected.”
“We are looking forward to successful contract negotiations. We want to thank the community groups, health providers, local businesses, and the Maui Memorial Medical Center physicians and staff who have worked alongside us for 46 years with a shared commitment to providing quality, affordable care on Maui. We look forward to our continued collaboration to ensure a healthy future for the Maui Region,” representatives said in the Kaiser statement.
In a letter to legislators earlier this year, Kaiser representatives said, “We view our long-established presence on the island, coupled with our dedication to exceptional patient-centered medicine, as key factors in ensuring a robust partnership that creates a meaningful and positive impact on the health of the entire community.”
The Maui Region of the HHSC, which includes Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital, serves more than 11,000 inpatients and sees over 45,000 people in the emergency room each year. There are currently 1,500 individuals employed at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is the only full-service, acute-care medical facility in the county.
Kaiser Permanente was founded in 1945, and currently serves more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Here in Hawaiʻi, Kaiser Permanente serves more than 243,000 people in Hawaii, including over 55,000 on Maui.
The partnership would be subject to approval by the Governor, the HHSC and the Maui region Board of Directors.