Some lawmakers want Wahiawa General Hospital to cut acute care services

Some lawmakers want Wahiawa General Hospital to cut acute care services
Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 at 5:49 PM HST
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WAHIAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wahiawa General Hospital has 160 beds. Fifty-three of them are reserved for patients who require short-term stays for severe injuries or illnesses, a healthcare sector known as acute care.

Residents say its an essential element of the hospital's services.

"I think acute care is necessary because we have the whole north side of the island coming this way," said Jordan Clapson.

Wahiawa General's policy considers everyone from Central Oahu through the North Shore as potential patients, and acute care as a vital service it provides them.

"It might be a medical type issue like an infection. It might be a surgical type need, an appendectomy or a gall bladder removed," interim CEO Doug Degraaf said.

Last year, lawmakers gave Wahiawa General $2 million to help keep its doors open. This year, the facility faces a projected loss of $2 million. They're asking taxpayers to help cover the deficit until they have a long-term financial plan.

Some lawmakers, though, say they're are reluctant to subsidize the hospital if its spending too much on acute care.

"When you have acute care, you have to have so much staffing that it's very difficult to sustain unless you have enough patients," said State Sen. Josh Green. "That's why going towards ER and long term care with some partnerships might be the way to go."

In addition to his civic duties, Green is also an emergency room physician. He said Wahiawa General Hospital might be more effective if it partnered with some larger hospitals that are better suited for acute care.

Degraaf believes Wahiawa General shouldn't completely abandon acute care.

"There may be some acute services that we want to retain here, that would complement our long-term care services and emergency services," he said.

Options for dealing with Wahiawa General's financial dilemma are once again being debated at the legislature.

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