Q: What is Maui Health System doing to address the primary care and specialist doctor shortage on Maui?
Michael Rembis, CEO, Maui Health System: Physician recruitment is critical to Maui Health System’s mission to provide excellent health care to the communities we serve. We have been working very closely with our medical leadership to determine where the critical gaps are for physicians in our county. According to a recent Hawaii physician workforce survey by the University of Hawaii, Maui County is short by about 141 doctors (The Maui News, Sept. 18, 2018), including 44 primary care physicians (PCP). We’re committed to not just meeting but exceeding the health care needs of our community. To do that, we’ve dedicated ourselves to a goal of bringing in at least 10 physicians per year for the next three years.
This year, we already have four new physicians on island that we’ll be introducing to the community — Dr. Derrick Beech, an oncological surgeon; Dr. Stephanie Yan, a trauma surgeon; and neurosurgeons Drs. Christopher Taleghani and Joel Ulloth. We have also confirmed a general/vascular surgeon to start in March. Additionally, we are still aggressively recruiting for trauma, oncology, gastroenterology, internal medicine, pulmonology, cardiology, nephrology and urology. The shortage in PCPs causes longer wait times for patients and without specialty physicians for services like spine or orthopedic procedures, our residents are forced to fly to Oahu, or even the Mainland, to get timely care. We know, and studies have shown, that healing happens best when close to home and ohana. Physician recruitment comes with many challenges, but we’re doing everything we can to not only find and recruit the best talent in the world, but to make sure they, and their family, find a place in our community and become a lifelong resource for superb medical care for our islands’ residents and visitors.
Q: What is the plan to resolve the terrible parking problem at the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room? I cannot valet because of the many valuables I keep in my car. When will you restore adequate self-parking for the emergency room and is there a plan to build a new parking structure at the hospital?
Michael Rembis, CEO, Maui Health System: Parking, or the shortage of parking, is one of the top issues we hear about at community town hall and employee forum events. We understand the importance of having convenient access to our hospital and addressing this concern is a priority for our leadership team. We are happy to confirm that we were finally able to start the long-awaited, but critical, parking study. The extensive study will help provide us the important data that we need to find both short- and long-term solutions to this issue. It is a long process involving a team of civil engineers and others, and includes data that we’ve compiled over the years, physical vehicle counts, and a comprehensive analysis of current parking inventory, as well as any potential new space that can be created. With this, our immediate goal is to reassess existing space and maximize opportunities for creating additional parking within the areas that are currently available on our property. We hope to open at least 50 additional stalls in the next year. Unfortunately, a new parking structure is not financially feasible in 2019, but it will remain in our long-term plan for the next five to 10 years.
* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.