HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Queen's Health Systems and St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii Monday announced that they have reached an agreement that enables The Queen's Health Systems to acquire and reopen the former Hawaii Medical Center West campus.
"This is an exciting day for the West Oahu community," said Jerry Correa, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii. "We recognize the vital need to reopen the Ewa hospital with an emergency department for West Oahu residents and our agreement represents a major step forward in that direction. We believe Queen's solid track record of quality care and thorough understanding of Hawaii's culture and the health needs of the local community make it ideally suited to operate the West hospital. We look forward to working with Queen's to expedite the reopening of the West campus hospital."
"The Queen's Medical Center is very excited about reopening the hospital and providing needed medical services to the West Oahu communities," said Art Ushijima, President of The Queen's Medical Center. "Over the coming months, Queen's will be committed to creating a campus that the people of West Oahu can be proud of. Our goal is to build an active and vibrant Queen's presence in West Oahu to serve this large and growing community, and to fulfill the mission of our founders, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV."
Queen's says it is committed to investing approximately $50 million into improvements to the former Hawaii Medical Center West campus that will include an expansion and modernization of emergency, surgical and imaging services.
The closing date of the sale is scheduled for October 2012. Queen's hopes to reopen the hospital by Fall 2013.
How much Queen's is spending in the deal in addition to the $50 million in upgrades is still confidential. They want to duplicate the downtown hospital out in Ewa Beach and they are even researching to see if the facility should be a trauma center. Right now the Queen's Medical Center in downtown is the only place that can treat trauma patients on the island.
"That's something we are going to be looking at. We definitely will be upgrading the emergency services there and obviously we will be taking a look at that," said Cedric Yamanaka, Queen's Health Systems Spokesperson.
"All the ambulances no matter where the emergency is if its a trauma case come downtown. If someday in the future if they were able to have a trauma center even a lower level trauma center in West Oahu that would be fantastic because the ambulances could get the patients to trauma services a lot quicker," said Dr. James Ireland, EMS Director. "Any enhanced capabilities on West Oahu would be helpful and potentially save lives."
"You have to do a lot of number crunching. You have to look at the discharge data and you have to look at the needs of that community. If those numbers play themselves out and a trauma center is necessary then I'm sure that's the road that Queen's would go down," said George Greene, Healthcare Association of Hawaii. "Whether its a trauma center or not I'm not sure but again Queen's does it's homework they'll put something in place that's best for the community of West Oahu."
Queen's will hire 400 people when it opens next fall. Reopening the west hospital will also mean less transport time for ambulances. Before the closure ambulances in Ewa traveled about four miles per trip. Now its 20 miles.
As for the East hospital in Liliha that also closed, Queen's says there are no plans for that facility. For now it is working to make the west facility a top tier hospital.
"To do this we are going to be doing three things, first we want to upgrade the imaging facilities there. Second we want to upgrade the surgical sweets there and obviously we want to upgrade the emergency services there," said Yamanaka.
St. Francis Healthcare System continues to operate its other non-hospital based services, including hospice care in people's homes islandwide, at nursing homes, and its own inpatient hospice centers in Nuuanu and the Ewa campus; home health on Oahu and Kauai; bathing and personal grooming services and other services.
On April 25, 2012, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Faris ordered the return of the hospital assets of the former Hawaii Medical Center to St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii and its affiliates. The assets include properties and equipment at both the East (Liliha) and West campuses of the former Hawaii Medical Center.
St. Francis Healthcare System sold the hospitals to Hawaii Medical Center in January 2007. Hawaii Medical Center subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization twice; the first time in August 2008, and again in June 2011.
Hawaii Medical Center began to wind down the hospital operations at the two campuses in Liliha and Ewa, starting with the closure of its emergency departments in December 2011. Hawaii Medical Center officially closed at the end of last year.