‘Record-breaking’ demand for healthcare takes toll on workers at Maui hospital

"Heroes definitely treated like zeros."
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:21 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 7:40 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Employees at Maui’s only acute care hospital are crying out for help.

They say they can’t keep up with the current demand for healthcare.

“We’re tired. We’re understaffed, underpaid, undervalued,” said Maui Memorial Medical Center maintenance worker Leonard Rodrigues Jr.

Rodrigues has been working for Maui Memorial Medical Center for about a year. From the Emergency Room doctors, to maintenance workers, he said he and his coworkers are struggling.

The Emergency Room is full of dozens of patients waiting for hours.

Rodrigues said they are running out of space.

“You got people in the hallways, you got beds in the hallways in the inside of the ED until we can find room upstairs into a room, into a floor, anything,” Rodrigues said.

Maui Health officials said they are seeing record-breaking demand for healthcare.

They added they have come up with a plan to expand capacity.

“We are in a much better situation today. We’re not doubling up on any rooms,” said Maui Health System Chief Executive Officer Michael Rembis. “It was very, very tight before the holidays.”

“What we’re experiencing is the same that every hospital in the state is experiencing,” Rembis added.

Last week, Maui Health System workers held two informational rallies in Kahului to raise awareness to these issues and demand more pay. They have been trying to negotiate a new contract for nine months.

“Heroes definitely treated like zeros,” Rodrigues said. “We want the community to be aware just how hard it is, how difficult it is. The cost of living is high. It’s hard and we need help.”

Rembis said Maui Health System is working on a partnership with the University of Hawaii to hire more healthcare workers right after graduation.

“Every healthcare worker is the best thing that ever happened to us. We need each and every one of them,” Rembis said. “They are heroes. They are sometimes working without all the resources that we would like them to have because we can’t find additional healthcare workers to help them.”

Rembis said community members can to go to an urgent care center or Kula Hospital for non-life-threatening issues for a potentially quicker response.

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