Hospice CEO to bring compassion to island

A nonprofit organization headquartered in Oklahoma has been given the go-ahead to establish a seven-bed, inpatient hospice facility in a Kahului home.

Late last month, the State Health Planning and Development Agency granted a certificate of need to Islands Hospice. It would be Maui’s second hospice provider. Since 1978, Hospice Maui has been the island’s sole provider of hospice services to terminally ill patients and their families.

“We look forward to bringing our care and compassion to Maui,” said Dr. Michael Duick, Islands Hospice chief executive officer. “Having personally practiced medicine on Maui, I am acutely aware of the need for increased access to end-of-life care there.”

Islands Hospice already operates an outpatient services and inpatient unit in Palolo Valley on Oahu, he said. The Kahului facility also will offer outpatient services.

“We realize the immediate need to care for those who cannot have care otherwise, whether due to family or financial resources,” Duick said. “That is why we are determined to open a beautiful hospice home in Central Maui as quickly as possible.”

For now, Maui has no inpatient hospice beds. Hospice Maui provides care to terminally ill patients in their homes, at Hale Makua and at Roselani Place, said Kimber Carhart, the nonprofit’s director of development. Most terminally ill people want to spend their final days at home, she said. Services continue for bereaved family members.

Hospice Maui is awaiting a building permit to begin construction on a $1.5 million, five-bed inpatient facility on its property on Mahalani Street near Maui Memorial Medical Center. Groundbreaking is scheduled for January, Carhart said. Building plans have been submitted to the county, and there’s a bid out for construction materials.

“We have served this community with high-quality hospice care for over 30 years,” said Dr. Greg LaGoy, Hospice Maui’s executive director. “We will continue to serve this community with the best quality hospice care available.

“Health care has always been an ever-changing landscape, and the addition of another hospice program or another hospice residence is just another example of that,” he said. “We have always adapted when changes occur, and we will adapt to this.”

In its application to the state health planning agency, Islands Hospice said its plans call for developing its facility at a home built in 1978 and remodeled in 2008. The home is located at 833 Makalii St.

On Thursday, the eight-bedroom home was occupied by residents and had a “For Sale” sign outside.

Realtor Malia Cordero, the listing agent, said that the final sale with Islands Hospice was still pending.

She said that nonprofit officials were doing their due diligence on the property, which sold for a “little under” the asking price of $525,000.

“My seller is very happy,” Cordero said.

The property’s sale can close anytime, she added, with a home inspection completed recently and the parties “finishing up paperwork.”

Island Hospice’s certificate of need application lists its project costs as $525,000 for land acquisition, $100,000 for equipment and $200,000 for aesthetic improvements such as landscaping and painting.

The nonprofit has contracted for the purchase of the home on Maui, but “we do not have a closing date scheduled,” Duick said.

Although the home is in a residential area, “Hawaii state law precedent allows permitted use of hospice homes in residentially designated zones including but not limited to zones for single-family dwellings,” Islands Hospice said in its application for state approval.

County Department of Planning Deputy Director Michele Chouteau McLean said that county planners are aware of the state law allowing hospice homes in residential areas, but she said the provision does not appear to apply in this case.

The law allows certain adult family boarding homes and care homes in single-family dwellings that are occupied by a family, McLean said.

“These homes generally do not provide professional medical care; instead, they provide daily living assistance and personal care services rather than health or nursing services,” she said in an email.

The Makalii property is zoned residential, and a hospice facility would need to get a county special use permit approved by the Maui Planning Commission, McLean said.

Islands Hospice is committed to following all federal, state and county regulations and looks forward to a close working relationship with McLean “as we strive to offer Maui residents needed health care services,” Duick said.

The need for such services is underscored in the state health planning agency’s July 29 written decision. It includes a statement signed a month earlier by 30 health care providers at Maui Memorial.

“We see a significant need for an additional end-of-life care option for our community,” the statement says. “Due to the lack of capacity of our only hospice, patients must often be hospitalized indefinitely. . . . When hospital discharges can no longer be delayed, we have had no choice but to discharge terminally ill patients to their families without the immediate interdisciplinary support of a hospice team.”

The health care providers noted that “the growing and aging population of Maui will only make the need more critical to have adequate resources and another provider for hospice care.”

The agency’s written decision noted that Hospice Maui received approval for a 12-bed facility in October 2007, but it announced in the summer of 2012 that it would not be able to operate such a facility. Instead, it downsized to a “homelike, five-bed, 3,000-square-foot facility.”

In May, Islands Hospice proposed to add seven beds on Maui, which would bring the island’s total to 12 when both facilities are opened.

“Islands Hospice recognizes the significant need for hospice inpatient beds on the island of Maui,” the nonprofit’s announcement says. “While Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii have several inpatient hospice beds, Maui has no such option.”

Islands Hospice’s permit application says it could begin providing services 90 days after receiving its certificate of need. It will be hiring in the fall, with job fairs to be scheduled soon.

The nonprofit organization is Medicare certified and nationally accredited, according to its announcement.

Incorporated in 2009 in Tulsa, Okla., Islands Hospice had revenue of nearly $4.3 million for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 2011, according to the nonprofit’s filing with the Internal Revenue Service. It had total expenses of nearly $3.5 million in the same year.

Hospice Maui’s tax filing for July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, showed it with total revenue of $2.1 million, and total expenses of $2 million. It was incorporated in 1981. It began as a grass-roots hospice care program in 1978.

* Brian Perry can be reached at bperry@mauinews.com.