Adolescent behavioral unit closure the wrong move

The Maui News on July 13 reported that Maui Memorial Medical Center plans on closing its adolescent behavioral health unit in a bid to save $1 million per year. As Wes Lo, MMMC chief states, this is a “very vulnerable population.” No kidding.

Adolescents with behavioral health needs will be evaluated in the ER and then flown to some as yet unnamed facility on Oahu for treatment if needed, assuring that even less adolescents will receive the health care they need and ratcheting up the stress on the families of these kids.

This new policy virtually assures these patients will be medicated and sent through a revolving door of recurring episodes and frantic phone calls. Mr. Lo points out that Maui is the only Neighbor Island with such a facility. This is not a reason to close it, it is a reason to expand these facilities to all islands.

At a time when our state representatives crow about blowing $20 million to purchase Lipoa Point and wasting 6 million bucks on the Lahaina bypass to nowhere, why is the state government cutting funding for Maui’s only hospital, which, by the way, sports a brand-new six-story glass atrium with a four-star hotel style reception area and valet parking?

Why is Mr. Lo trying to balance his boutique hospital’s budget on the backs of children and their at-risk families? Answers to some of these questions might be provided on July 23, 5 p.m. at the MMMC auditorium.

Joe D’Alessandro