Public-to-private hospitals’ transition deemed ‘a success’

Ray Hahn, Maui Health System hospital administrator, emphasizes that Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals will continue to be open to everyone and not just Kaiser Permanente members. Maui Health System is a Kaiser subsidiary.Ray Hahn, Maui Health System hospital administrator, emphasizes that Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals will continue to be open to everyone and not just Kaiser Permanente members. Maui Health System is a Kaiser subsidiary. • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAHULUI — The transition phase of the operational takeover of Maui County public hospitals by Kaiser Permanente subsidiary Maui Health System has ended, and it was a success, said an official with the new management.

Twenty-five days into the historic public-to-private transition, Maui Health System hospital administrator Ray Hahn told an informational gathering Tuesday that there was not one patient glitch.

“I would definitely call the transition . . . a successful one,” Hahn said Tuesday afternoon at a talk-story session hosted by the Kaiser subsidiary in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Alexa Higashi room.

A second informational session is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. today at Waiola Church in Lahaina.

Hahn told the 20 people at the MACC that the transition period, which began with the takeover July 1, ended the second week of July, but there still are checklists that staff and administrators are going through and closing out every day.

Patient safety was not compromised during the transition, and physicians and staff continued to provide the highest and best care possible, he said.

“Patients really didn’t or do not notice the background inter-workings that are happening,” Hahn said. “When you deal with patient care, seamless care is the best care.”

Years in the making and delayed for a year by legal action, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region hospitals, Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals, came under the management of Maui Health System as a way to stem skyrocketing costs to the state and to improve patient care.

Hahn reminded the audience that the hospital, as in the past, accepts all insurance — and those who do not have insurance. It is not exclusively a Kaiser facility.

He also thanked the community for its patience through the years and the transition process, noting that most of the delays were caused by things out of Maui Health System’s hands.

Some of the biggest upgrades involve new technology, including new electronic medical records, supply ordering and worker time-sheet systems, he said.

When asked about expansion of medical services, Hahn said, “It’s going to take a little bit of time.”

What is getting greater attention is $300 million in needed infrastructure and equipment improvements. More parking is high on the priority list for workers (and probably the public) as well as a Starbucks, he said.

As far as staffing, the hospitals need about 280 more workers “across the board,” Hahn said. The hospitals currently employ 1,507 people — 1,295 of them at Maui Memorial. The vacancies are being filled by contract staff.

During the hourlong gathering, Hahn fielded various questions, including one from a doula and child birth educator who said that the cost of private rooms for women who have given birth have risen from $150 to $700 per night.

Hahn said he just learned about the matter Tuesday morning and was looking into it. Other Maui Health System officials said after the meeting that they were looking into it too and could not confirm the price increase.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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