Amid Maui’s only private obstetrics practice will soon halt OB services

Our Chelsea Davis reports on the need for specialized physicians and the challenges they face
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:54 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 12:23 PM HST
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MAUI LANI (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a major setback for women’s healthcare on Maui, the island’s only private obstetrics doctors will deliver their final babies later this year.

Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons will continue with gynecology, but still end obstetrics in the fall.

The specialists there say it highlights the need for specialized physicians on the Valley Isle and the challenges they face.

Dr. Stacy Ammerman has been an obstetrician and gynecologist for 12 years. Her entire career has been on Maui.

Dr. Christy Takemoto is also an OBGYN and has been practicing on Maui for 16 years.

Together, they started Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons 10 years ago.

“We recently decided as a group to stop doing obstetrics, which is the delivering of babies and taking care of pregnant women. It’s something that we loved doing,” said Ammerman.

“It’s been a very hard decision to make,” Takemoto said.

They say several factors have gone into the difficult decision.

A big challenge has been physician recruitment. Few doctors are willing to move to Maui, where the cost of living is high and pay is lower than in other states.

“It’s challenging for people to move their family here if they have children and don’t have other family to help care for them. The cost of living is a huge factor as well and the housing really just adds to the challenge in bringing somebody over here specifically,” said Takemoto.

Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons will take care of their current patients.

However, they will stop obstetrics in October.

After that, Maui women who don’t have Kaiser insurance will only have one prenatal care option — a federally-qualified health care center, Malama I Ke Ola.

The specialists say a solution is multi-faceted.

“Reimbursement from insurance companies tends to be low in Hawaii and specifically to obstetrics,” said Takemoto. “A change in how obstetrics is reimbursed through insurance is one big change that needs to happen.”

Ammerman added: “I think the solution is going to be bigger systems like the hospital, insurance companies, or larger hospital systems on Oahu considering coming in and starting an OB hospitalists program.”

Maui Memorial Medical Center said it is looking into hiring laborists and working to renew its partnership with the University of Hawaii to bring in OB residents.

Construction for a new hospital in West Maui is also already underway, but has been stalled because of financial issues.

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