Planned West Maui hospital ‘really needed’ — residents

LAHAINA – While some West Maui residents know that the planned hospital in Kaanapali won’t be a cure-all for every medical situation, they say the facility is greatly needed and are pleased its construction is on schedule to be completed in 2016.

“It’s really needed,” said Lahaina resident Marsha Bryan, who pointed to West Maui’s population, which includes residents and thousands of tourists who visit and stay on the west side. The only other hospital on the island is Maui Memorial Medical Center in Wailuku, at least a half-hour drive away.

Fellow resident Phylecia Platte agreed and said that even though people with major problems such as heart conditions would still probably need to go to MMMC for treatment, at least there would be a hospital that can initially handle the “minor” emergencies as well as stabilize and diagnose patients before being transferred to the Central Maui facility.

The long-awaited West Maui Hospital and Medical Center remains on schedule to be completed around mid-2016, said an attorney with developer Newport Hospital Corp last week.

Developers of the acute-care hospital are seeking land entitlements, and the nonprofit operator, West Maui Hospital Foundation, has chosen a board of directors, said Newport Hospital Corp. attorney Michelle Berner.

She made the announcement and gave an update of the hospital at a West Maui Taxpayers Association meeting Thursday at the Lahaina Civic Center.

The directors are:

* Jo Anne Johnson Winer, director of the county Department of Transportation and a former Maui County Council member who held the West Maui residency seat.

* Howard Hanzawa, a retired senior vice president for Kaanapali Land Management Corp. and a current Maui Police Commission member.

* Alfred Arensdorf, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an executive assistant for former Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

* Brian Hoyle, president of Newport Hospital Corp.

The facility will be located on 14.99 acres in Kaanapali off of Kakaalaneo Drive, mauka of Honoapiilani Highway. Hoyle has said that the property is zoned agricultural and will need to be rezoned for public use.

Costs are projected to be $45 million to $50 million. While funding has been secured with a real estate investment trust, no money is in the bank yet.

But Hoyle told The Maui News last year that is not unusual for that type of a loan to be funded shortly before construction begins.

In March 2009, Newport Hospital Corp. received a certificate of need from the State Health Planning and Development Agency for the establishment of a West Maui facility with 19 medical/surgical beds, six critical care beds, 40 skilled nursing beds, an emergency room, an operating room, a diagnostic radiology department and outpatient services.

Plans call for building a 30,000-square-foot medical office building.

The manager of the acute-care hospital would be Critical Access HealthCare LLC.

Securing land entitlements is expected to take a year with construction proceeding after the entitlements are secured, Berner said.

Although the West Maui Taxpayers Association hosted the meeting that included various presentations for developments in West Maui, the association backs the hospital, but it is not raising money for the hospital, said former taxpayers head, Joseph Pluta, a staunch supporter of the hospital development.

Pluta sought to clear up confusion over advertisements that have been running in The Maui News recently that asks for donations for the local organization, West Maui Hospital & Medical Center Foundation, which Pluta heads.

Pluta said that the foundation is separate from the hospital and the West Maui Taxpayers Association. He said that he hopes the foundation can raise money and be a “bridge” to help make the hospital a reality.

Pluta also said that the West Maui Improvement Foundation, a charity organization affiliated with the West Maui Taxpayers Association, had raised money to assist with the certificate of need process. But it is also not related to the West Maui Hospital & Medical Center Foundation.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at