Letters 4-21-2013


Banner Health

It’s not a ‘takeover’; advance ‘partnership’

Erin Miller’s article today regarding several of the HHSC-related bills being considered by the legislature was generally accurate. But Erin, and anyone else sharing the same misconception, simply has to stop characterizing discussions between HHSC and Banner Health as a “takeover.”

What has been proposed is a potential partnership — not a “takeover” but a partnership. And, fact is, discussions are but in the earliest of the earliest of the most preliminary stage, such that neither Banner nor the HHSC facilities have even begun to negotiate details of such a partnership or, indeed, even to make a firm decision to further consider it or not.

What is decided, by simple recognition of fundamental realities, is that the HHSC hospitals, and the communities they serve, would benefit immeasurably by an infusion of expertise in being a state-of-the-art health care system and, too, by capital funding to help make it so.

Banner Health is an extremely well-regarded system in the communities it serves. It is, like our hospitals, a nonprofit system. It is at the forefront of numerous activities that are best characterized as creating the revolution in health care that’s unfolding around us. I, for one, don’t want to be left behind.

Look on into the future of health care on the Big Island. Ten, 15, 20 years from now: do we still want to be making do with local health care resources that are inadequate to serve our growing population, always having to travel to Honolulu for “high-tech” treatments, always having to wait or travel for specialist consultations?

State-of-the-art health care facilities functioning as an integrated system throughout Hawaii Island would attract doctors, nurses, physician assistants, respiratory techs, physiotherapists, X-ray technicians, nurses aides, ward clerks, billing staff, lab workers, kitchen staff, housekeepers, gardeners, maintenance workers, medical supply companies, pharmacists and on and on.

The jobs created by a vibrant health care community on the island, and the safety and comfort assured to residents by having state-of-the-art care available locally would literally transform our island home.

Kona Community Hospital serves this community in many, many exemplary ways. But it’s aging, is no longer in the right location for our growing community, and the site topography and size make expansion unreasonable. A replacement hospital, somewhere north of Palani Road, will cost at least $200 million.

Banner Health has acknowledged a new Kona Coast medical facility should be the priority capital project of a potential partnership.

Partnership of the Big Island HHSC hospitals with a highly functioning health care system, integrated care island wide, supported by technology and increased funding will bring us health care resources equal to those on Oahu and the mainland.

The failure of the current Legislature to advance the bill that would have facilitated such a partnership is disheartening and truly a disservice to our Big Island community.

Ali Bairos, MD

Kealakekua