Hawaii faces growing ‘health care crisis'

Dr. Chiyome Fukino
Dr. Chiyome Fukino

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The state's health director issues a warning: our medical problems go way beyond our public hospitals.  It seems to be a never-ending list of setbacks.  Just this week, layoffs at Kona Community Hospital, and mandatory cutbacks at Hawaii's state-run hospitals.

But Tuesday, the state's top doc said, our private hospitals are also in the midst of a crisis.

Doctors are concerned about our state's health care crisis because there's no relief in sight and there are no simple answers.  We're talking about every single hospital in Hawaii, including the state's only trauma center.

The Queen's Medical Center is where the people of Hawaii go when they have serious medical problems, but even the state's only trauma center is facing hard times.

"I think it's important to emphasize to people that all of our hospitals are experiencing a financial crisis right now," said Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the State of Hawaii's director of health.

The state's health director says this "health care crisis" extends to both public and private hospitals.

"Every single hospital in this state is faced with similar issues of being under-reimbursed and mounting cost of providing quality care," said Dr. Fukino.  "Every single hospital in the state is faced with similar financial difficulties."

This is especially true for neighbor island hospitals.

"We know physicians have left town," said Dr. Fukino.  "There is not a whole lot of interest in setting up practice in rural communities."

But even our most populated island faces hard times.

"Yes, there are a lot of services on Oahu, but there's also a lot of people and we find increasingly more and more people are unable to find a primary care doctor take care of them," said Dr. Fukino.  "We have issues with the number of neurologists that are available to service our folks and trauma surgeons and orthopedists."

This means doctors, lawmakers, and ordinary citizens need to work together to come up with a solution before hospitals start closing down.

"We are in a health care crisis right now," said Dr. Fukino.  "I think people feel comfortable because when you look across the street, the hospital, the brick and mortar, is still there.  But the brick and mortar of all of our hospitals is only one piece of the health care system."

A façade on the verge of collapsing if changes don't happen soon.

Doctors say the best way to minimize the impact on you is to take preventive measures: eating healthier, exercising, and seeing your doctor on a regular basis if you have chronic conditions.