Difficult health care decisions ahead

The Maui Region hospital system of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital has been serving the families of Maui County through many generations. Each day our team works toward one goal – to improve the well-being of our community through quality health care, a thriving workforce and symbiotic partnerships with other local organizations.

Over the years we have committed ourselves to bringing vital medical services to Maui County. This has allowed us to treat patients faster (thus improving patient outcomes), keep them near their families and reduce travel expenses incurred for procedures like open-heart surgery, angioplasty and interventional radiology. We’ve offered free classes and clinics, expanded medical capabilities, including becoming a Level III Trauma Designation, and offer many critical health care services that are not offered on any other Neighbor Island. We’ve listened to feedback and concerns, and continually work to improve where we are lacking. We’ve improved all of our (government-determined) quality metrics, and perform in these as well as the top hospitals in the state. All to better serve our island community.

Major changes in the health care environment have created challenges in the continued sustainability of hospital operations. It doesn’t come down to a single issue, a single initiative or a single expense. In an attempt to summarize the changes that are happening in health care, we are faced with rising costs, decreasing health insurance reimbursements and new expenses like IT system upgrades to meet federal mandates under the Affordable Care Act. Albeit oversimplified points, they create a complex web of negative revenue that we weren’t able to get additional funding to cover, nor do we have the ability to find alternative funding resources.

Hospital officials are not singling out labor costs as the source of the financial situation, and never have. This has been a misleading focal point in recent news. We don’t put blame on the unions that exist to support our employees. We’ve always advocated for our employees. They are our greatest investment and invaluable to meeting the needs of our community with professionalism and compassion. We strive to provide a workplace that is enriching and rewarding, and support this with continued education and employee recognition programs.

In the months to come the Maui Region board of directors and management teams will be evaluating our services and prioritizing them based on need. We may be forced to reduce or eliminate, which would ultimately affect our staffing. We will maintain the highest level of quality and safety in care that we’ve worked so hard to achieve and look at all possible avenues before making any cuts. We will look at all contracts and nonessential services most immediately. But all expenses will be considered, including executive compensation, and we intend to be transparent and sensitive in our processes.

The bottom line is that we have to make some difficult decisions. We know our community depends on us to care for them and their families with medical services and jobs. We will weigh all options and outcomes to find the best solutions possible within the circumstances we are facing. We are proud of our team and what we’ve achieved over the past few years, and will fight to continue forward movement for our community and staff.

We appreciate patience and support, and invite community members to submit questions and feedback to info@mauimemorialmedical.org.

* Wesley Lo is the regional chief executive officer for Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.