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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 20, 2006

Malulani appeal cites quakes as another reason for 2nd hospital

By Tara Godvin
Associated Press

Those behind a proposed new hospital on Maui are appealing a state decision to reject the new facility citing Sunday's earthquakes as evidence of why the island needs another hospital.

Malulani Health and Medical Center, a planned 150-bed acute care community hospital in Kihei, filed its appeal of the decision Monday.

Dr. Ron Kwon, Malulani's president, said yesterday that the center had already planned to file its appeal when the quakes hit.

Two state advisory panels voted against the medical center, while one panel was in favor of it. The final decision was made earlier this month by Dr. David Sakamoto, the head of the State Health Planning and Development Agency.

Opponents of the plan said they weren't convinced the island needed a hospital other than the Maui Memorial Medical Center, the only existing acute-care medical facility on the island.

In the appeal, Malulani attorney Phillip Moon said the earthquakes demonstrated "significant factors and circumstances for the need for additional medical facilities on Maui."

Malulani also said that the process for making the decision was flawed.

The aftermath of the quakes off the Big Island including the evacuation of several Kona Community Hospital patients to Hilo simply reinforced Malulani's belief that another hospital is needed on Maui, he said.

"Now what do you do if you only have one hospital? Where do the patients go? I mean, you can't just put them in a car, can you? That's the problem, we're islands," he said.

Gov. Linda Lingle, who was Maui's mayor for eight years and a member of the Maui County Council for a decade, has been a strong supporter of the planned facility and has warned that the state may not have the money to fund future upgrades at state-subsidized Maui Memorial.

A committee of five healthcare industry experts, which includes Sakamoto and a Maui County healthcare panel representative, will now need to decide within 30 days if Malulani's request has merit.

If so, the committee must hold a public hearing within 30 days of the appeal and then issue its final decision within the following 45 days.