This emperor has no clothes

Viewpoint

I am writing early in the transition of the Kaiser assumption of management of Maui community hospital to give my initial impressions. I am a surgeon/physician, in practice on Maui for over 25 years.

Moreover, I have made a substantial investment in the Maui community recently by founding Lyons Care Associates LLC — a multi-location clinic focused on providing care for patients requiring breast and gastrointestinal surgical services.

Moreover, I served on the Maui Regional Board to review and help select between Kaiser and Hawaii Pacific Health Systems as candidates to assume governance of Maui Memorial Medical Center. After extensive presentations and interviews with Kaiser and HPH, the Maui Regional Board voted unanimously (including my vote) to select Kaiser to manage our community hospital.

After three months of experiencing (or enduring) Kaiser management, I feel misled, and wish my vote had been “not Kaiser.”

In three months, Kaiser has shown that success in managing a large national health care system does not necessarily translate into skill or knowledge in managing/governing a small/moderate community hospital. In my opinion and from my perspective as a private physician, Kaiser has shown a complete lack of understanding in how to be a basic partner for Maui private physicians.

Very basic hospital services such as systems for delivering hospital records and billing documents to private offices remain nonexistent. Moreover, skill in resolving physician contracts and working through the nuances of call burden for private physicians remain inexplicably problematic. When compared to even the troubled old Hawaii Health Systems Corp. governance system, Kaiser management has shown a disturbing lack of ability to solve basic daily management issues in a timely manner.

In my discussions with some of my private physician colleagues, the Kaiser transition has been very costly for private practices, with physicians and office staffs having to work additional hours to compensate for absent or ineffective hospital services.

The glowing “propaganda” which led to Kaiser being selected to govern our community hospital has not been matched by performance. This emperor “has no clothes.” For the record, and if only symbolically, I am changing my vote.

* Dr. Samuel D. Lyons is the owner/managing partner of Lyons Care Associates LLC with offices in Wailuku and Kihei.

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