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Letters | 4-8-14

April 8, 2014 - 12:05am

Hospital partnership bill the wrong move

I was saddened and amused by the “Health system partnership heading to committee” article concerning Senate Bill 3064, which purports to bring West Hawaii somewhat closer to the 21st century in hospital care of its residents by, once again, proposing a “public-private partnership” leading to the eventual assumption of the state owned Kona Community Hospital by some “private entity.”

I was amused because a similar plan was introduced in the late 1980s, by then health director Jack Lewin and the CEO of Queen’s Medical Center, Fred Pritchard. At that time, these two gentlemen found their way to Kona hospital and addressed the medical staff’s concerns about the decaying and inadequate facility that served then, and now, as the only acute care hospital in our community. Their answer: In a public-private partnership between Queen’s Medical Center and the state of Hawaii, a “state-of-the-art” hospital will be built near Kona airport on land donated by Nansay, a Japan-based real estate firm that quickly dissolved into bankruptcy. These gentlemen made an absolute, irrevocable promise that the new hospital would open its doors in 1994.

Twenty years later, we are still waiting for the grand opening.

With Senate Bill 3064, our elected representatives who sponsor and support this legislation, have essentially thrown our community “under the bus” once again, by creating a bill that would exclude any bidders other than Queen’s, Kaiser or Pacific Health Care from the bid process.

Rather than be inclusive, and having an expanded choice of bidders, the bill will only allow these “preferred partners” — in Rep. Nicole Lowen’s words — to bid. I would suggest that Sen. Josh Green, Rep. Lowen and other supporters engage the service of an attorney versed in anti-trust litigation before talking about “preferred partners.”

For the moment, Hawaii is still part of the United States, and there is no rational reason, other than political expediency, to place such limits on the bid process.

Our elected representatives should realize that they represent this community, not the public employee unions or the “preferred partners” in Honolulu. They should start working for us, not them.

Peter Locatelli, M.D.