HMC organ transplant center & hospitals likely to someday reopen

Chuck Sted
Chuck Sted

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii Medical Center East is the only facility in the state that performs organ transplants. There are currently more than 400 people on the waiting list for pancreas, kidney, liver, and heart transplants.

The HMC Transplant Center will close if Hawaii Medical Center shuts down as scheduled, but it will likely reopen at another hospital. And Hawaii Medical Center East (Liliha) and West (Kapolei) will also likely be revived in some way, shape, or form.

"Hawaii Pacific Health for many years has believed, and we've been very public about it, that Hawaii Medical Center West will be very successful in the future as a community hospital and as an affiliate of Hawaii Pacific Health if we can accomplish that," said Chuck Sted, President and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, which operates the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Straub Clinic & Hospital, and Pali Momi Medical Center on Oahu.

"And we believe that the (HMC) East campus can become a skilled nursing, long term care, adult day care and other similar facilities campus. And we're willing and able to provide a leadership role in that transition of the East campus. We're not in that business. We're not in those businesses, but if we need to be part of a community leadership to help make the transition we'd be happy to do that," Sted told Hawaii News Now.

Sted said his hospitals and others on Oahu have the resources to care for patients once HMC shuts its doors.

"Not a problem. As a community we have the bed capacity to take care of anybody that needs to be in a hospital bed," Sted said.

"We (Kapiolani, Straub, and Pali Momi) stand ready to pick up any of them (patients) that we have to pick up. I imagine some will come to our hospitals. Some may go to Queens', Kuakini, Wahiawa, Castle, and so forth. That's one way that it will affect us. We are going to have to pick up our share of the patients," he said.

Dr. Alan Cheung, Director of the Transplant Center at HMC East, said patients waiting for organ transplants are being given two options.

They can ask the hospital to transfer their wait time on transplant lists to medical facilities on the mainland and hope their lifesaving organs can be found there. Or they can wait until the Transplant Center relocates to another hospital on Oahu.

It is possible Queen's may make room for the Transplant Center.

Queen's CEO Art Ushijima said Friday, "…if Hawaii Medical Center is not able to continue this vital program, we will take a strong look at seeing what Queen's can do to preserve it."

Cheung said under a best case scenario the Transplant Center could be relocated and open for business in Early February, but cautioned the transition could take six months.

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