To shore up finances, Wahiawa General will stop doing surgeries

Updated: May. 6, 2019 at 5:14 PM HST
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WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Central Oahu medical facility that has been struggling financially for years is now cutting back on services.

Wahiawa General Hospital just announced that it will stop doing surgeries by the end of this month.

“It made me sad, but in a way I understand. The hospital does need to do things to secure its place in the community,” said former state lawmaker Marilyn Lee, who worked at the hospital for 25 years.

The move is expected to save the non-profit organization about $1 million each year.

“Ten years ago we were doing thousands of surgeries a year, and now we’re down well below 500, so significantly down,” said Brian Cunningham, the hospital’s chief executive officer.

“We average about a surgery a day, a surgery and a half a day.”

Cunningham said they tried to boost the number of surgeries performed, but the rural hospital simply couldn’t compete with larger and newer facilities.

About five full-time employees who are affected will be offered other positions in the organization, according to the hospital.

Leaders plan to reinvest resources into core services, such as the emergency department and outpatient treatment, as well as critical and long-term care.

“We will be looking to right size, trim services that are not needed and to add services where they are needed, so our plan overall in the net, we still are looking for growth opportunities with certain services,” said Cunningham.

The hospital had an operational loss of a little more than $1 million during FY2018.

The facility broke even in fiscal year 2017, thanks to funding from state lawmakers.

“They really need to look at some strategic focus on becoming more competitive so they can become more relevant,” said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who was born at Wahiawa General.

The hospital recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“We plan on being here long into the future, but just like it has evolved in those 75 years, it will continue to evolve,” said Cunningham.

The last day for surgeries is set for May 15. The entire Surgical Services Unit is scheduled to close on May 31.

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