WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the transition to privatize Maui County's three hospitals moves ahead, the leader who helped bring about the change is about to step down.
Wesley Lo says there were some tough times in the past, but he's excited about the future.
Lo first started as Maui Memorial Medical Center's chief financial officer 13 years ago. Now he's in charge of Hawaii Health System Corporation's Maui County facilities. It's role he'll relinquish on July 1, the day that Kaiser's Maui Health Systems is set to take over operations of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.
"You don't want to be in the way of change and get in that way and this is just a good time for me to step away," Lo said in a phone interview with Hawaii News Now. "I'm pleased that I got the hospital to where it should be."
Gov. David Ige approved a 30-year lease agreement in which the state would still own the hospitals, but Kaiser would run them, spending $100 million to improve and operate the facilities.
Lo is thrilled about the upgrades coming to the county's struggling health care system.
"Although there's been highs and lows, it's all been going in that direction," he said. "I wish it could have happened faster and a little less painfully, but I'm just happy we're at the place where we are."
Staff are busy training for the massive transition.
In the end, Lo says patients can expect better access to critical health care services.
"There will be some bumps in the road," Lo said. "People are going to be learning new computers and new workflows, so I think it will take a little time, but I think Kaiser has certainly shown their willingness to put a lot of resources in this to make this as smooth as possible."
The United Public Workers Union filed a lawsuit to try to stop the takeover. A decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is pending.