Interim HHSC Maui Region chief named

Longtime Maui Memorial Medical Center Dr. Barry Shitamoto has been selected as interim chief executive officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s Maui Region, effective Nov. 1, according to an announcement.

Shitamoto will replace Wesley Lo, current Maui Region chief executive office, who announced earlier this month that he would leave Oct. 31 to take over as chief executive officer at Hale Makua Health Services. Tony Krieg is retiring from that job after 30 years with Hale Makua.

“Dr. Shitamoto has a long relationship with the Maui community, serving in a number of leadership roles to benefit the Maui Region,” said region board Chairman Avery Chumbley.

Shitamoto has served as the hospital’s chief of staff and Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation board chairman. Now, he’s a member of the Maui Region board.

“Our priority remains the safety of our community, and the board wanted to ensure that its next CEO had experience to manage care decisions, while ensuring a seamless transition to Kaiser,” Chumbley said.

The Maui Region has three hospitals: Maui Memorial, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.

On Thursday, the region announced it has openings for permanent full- and part-time positions at all of its facilities. Departments hiring include administration, nursing, maintenance, patient services and imaging, among others.

To see vacancies, go to www.mauimemorial.org/our-family/employment/. New employees hired before the hospital’s changeover to Kaiser will be given permanent-employee status and benefits, according to an announcement.

Late last month, Lo estimated Maui Region staff vacancies were around 400, out of a total of nearly 2,000 countywide. The number of vacancies has been larger than usual because of the transition of Maui hospitals from the HHSC to Kaiser.

About 120 of the vacancies were being filled by temporary workers.

Last year, lawmakers passed a measure to privatize Maui Region hospitals. And, in January, the governor signed a deal to transfer hospital operations to Kaiser Permanente. The transfer was supposed to take effect July 1, but it has been blocked by hospital worker unions.

Kaiser has said it plans to take over hospital operations July 1, a year later than the original transfer date. The current changeover date is a day after the expiration of labor contracts with the United Public Workers union and Hawaii Government Employees Association.

The UPW has 536 blue-collar employees at Maui Region hospitals, and the HGEA represents 900 white-collar employees, including nurses and supervisors.

Shitamoto graduated from Lahainaluna High School and received his Bachelor of Arts in microbiology and his doctorate in medicine from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has been a staff pathologist with Pan Pacific Pathologists at Maui Memorial since 1989.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of engaging and collaborating with the various stakeholders of Maui’s health care to further address the needs of our community and ensure a safe transition to Kaiser in 2017,” Shitamoto said. “Wes and his team have done such a great job of growing the health care options available to our residents, and it is a privilege to be able to continue to do that work.”

Shitamoto is married to Lynne Shitamoto. They have three daughters and one grandson. A second grandchild is due in February.