WAILUKU — Maui’s new medical care provider has hired five doctors in the last four months, bringing to 11 the number of new physicians Maui Health System has brought in since Kaiser Permanente took over management of Maui County’s three public hospitals nearly two years ago.
Michael Rembis, the CEO of Maui Health System, told The Maui News the newest hires include two neurosurgeons, two trauma/general surgeons and one oncological surgeon.
He said the county still needs more doctors and Maui Health System will continue to hire. The system aims to recruit 10 physicians every year.
A firm hired by Maui Health System found Maui needs 100 more physicians over the next five to 10 years.
The system took over Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital from the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., a state agency, in 2017.
Gov. David Ige said at the time that the 30-year contract would save the state $260 million over 10 years — though the state would still need to subsidize the hospitals initially.
Last year, the hospitals received $28 million from the state. Maui Health System is requesting $26 million for the next fiscal year, Rembis said, adding that each year the state subsidy goes down and Maui Health System will be asking for less.
In his version of the budget, Ige has requested $20.5 million for next fiscal year. The state Legislature is currently hammering out its version of the budget, which will determine what Maui Health System receives.
Rembis said last year that keeping patients on-island will help Maui Health System wean off its reliance on state subsidies.
In a recent interview, he noted that with the new physicians, Maui County residents won’t need to fly to Oahu or the U.S. mainland as much for medical care.
For example, in his first two weeks on the job, neurosurgeon Joe Ulloth, who began at the end of January, operated on about a half-dozen patients on Maui.
That meant six patients who didn’t need to go to Oahu, Rembis said.