WAILUKU, Maui — Maui state Senate candidates are debating how to help local public hospitals amid news the Maui Memorial Medical Center will shut down its adolescent behavioral health unit to save money.
Political newcomer Terez Amato said she would support partnering with local private hospitals but opposes selling Maui hospitals to mainland companies, The Maui News reported. Amato is challenging incumbent state Sen. Roz Baker for the Democratic nomination to represent south and west Maui.
“The absolute wrong thing to do is to sell Maui’s hospitals to mainland corporations who have no experience providing health care here or providing a commitment to the people of Maui,” Amato said.
Baker said she agrees partnering with local hospitals would be more “comfortable.” But she said the state shouldn’t rule out mainland care providers with the capital and technology needed to keep Maui Memorial competitive.
“I want the best deal we can get for Maui, whether it’s a local company or somebody else,” Baker said.
Measures that would have allowed Maui Memorial to enter into a public-private partnership died in committee during the past two legislative sessions.
Baker said there are “very good” nonprofit mainland medical care providers who might be interested. But she said a framework needs to be in place for partnerships to develop.
She said the public-private partnership measures died at the Legislature because “many of our Oahu colleagues may not understand why we can’t just come to Honolulu for care.” Baker said she would fight for emergency funding, as she did last year, to “make sure our clinical services are not lost.”
Maui Memorial in Wailuku is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the nation’s fourth-largest public hospital system. Kula Hospital in upcountry Maui and Lanai Community Hospital also are part of the system.