CEO of Molokai’s only health center not stepping down despite residents’ demands

Updated: Nov. 6, 2019 at 11:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tempers flared on Molokai Wednesday night at a meeting about the island's only health center.

The CEO of the Molokai Community Health Center is resisting demands for her to step down.

"At this moment, I think I would say, and all of my board members who are here tonight, what we're looking at does not warrant an immediate resignation or stepping down,” Helen Kekalia Wescoatt told a room full of about 100 people.

The complaints stem from a four-day closure back in August because of staff shortages.

Some residents said they could not get their prescriptions refilled which caused them to go the emergency room.

Former Family Nurse Practitioner at the health center Ty McComas wrote in a letter that he was put in charge of managing all 2,500 patients, which he said is far beneath a “universal level of safe, competent medical care.”

McComas could not do an interview with Hawaii News Now stating he now has legal representation.

However, in the letter approved by his attorney he said at least two to three clinicians, with at least one being an M.D., is the standard of care.

“The immense stress of being overburdened took its toll,” McComas wrote.

The facility was forced to close for four days after he called in sick.

Since then, residents have called for Wescoatt and the board to resign.

Molokai resident Heli Silva-Ducaroy said she was extremely disappointed in Wednesday’s meeting and that it was a waste of time.

"She's gonna have to step down because it's a community thing. Remember now, this our money. This is the community's money. It's federally funded. This is our money. We should have the say. Molokai, the people are in need," said Silva-Ducaroy.

The facility is the only federally qualified health center on the island and serves many low-income families.

Silva-Ducaroy and others are hoping federal investigations and lawsuits will solve their problem.

Senator J. Kalani English wrote in a statement dated on October 16th, “The Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is the federal agency responsible for the oversight of MCHC and I believe they need to conduct an investigation to determine if the health center is in compliance with HRSA’s policies and guidelines."

Dr. Torrey Goodman who is not affiliated with the center but is a practicing physician on the island said the problem is not a not lack of healthcare professionals, but the failure of leadership to retain them.

“This was a direct result of the leadership of the community health center not working with their personnel in an appropriate manner and running people off and they created that shortage and lack of personnel themselves,” Goodman said.

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