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LETTERS for January 9 issue

By Staff | Jan 9, 2014

West Maui Hospital will treat and save lives in its E.R.

In the Dec. 26 edition of the Lahaina News, the good news of Newport Hospital Corp. working on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the West Maui Hospital was on the front page. After working for 15 years as a volunteer for the project, I was thrilled to see that article, as I’m sure thousands of other readers were as well. Congratulations to all concerned, and our sincerest appreciation in advance to all who will assist in making this sorely-needed facility a lifesaving reality. Details of their progress and information can be seen at www.westmauihospitalandmedicalcenter.org

We are writing this letter in rebuttal to the misleading letter submitted in the Lahaina News on Dec. 26 by Dr. Lavenson. It is unfortunate that the letter contained statements that insinuate and mischaracterize what has been granted a unanimous approval as required for its Certificate of Need (CON) by the State Health Planning and Development Agency. That CON was granted only after three extensive board reviews by medical experts and physicians in Hawaii, who thoroughly examined all the issues, including emergency room services.

It’s all the more confusing, as the opinion expressed in this letter was characterized as “not just a different opinion.” We respectfully submit that it is, primarily because it is not shared by other doctors who currently practice in emergency rooms, and who want to be selected for the West Maui Hospital E.R. as well. The West Maui Hospital never suggested or represented itself to be a major cardiac heart operation or major trauma center as found at Maui Memorial Medical Center. It will establish protocols and procedures in coordination with the major cardiac facility at Maui Memorial to enhance overall efficiencies and outcomes.

Please remember that some West Side residents and visitors avoid calling 911 when they have chest pains and other indicators associated with heart attacks! WHY? It seems that they don’t want to have an ambulance take them “all the way to Maui Memorial E.R.,” because they are not “positive” that they are really having a heart attack and want to avoid the potentially unnecessary hassle and expense. Also, it seems that the majority who believe that they are having a heart attack and do get to the E.R. at MMMC subsequently learn that they had other issues and not a heart attack. Many West Side property owners sold their homes due to the isolation from Emergency Medical Services, and many more refuse to come to West Maui out of fear of what might happen to them if they did have an medical emergency here so far away.

There are other life-threatening issues besides heart attacks that an emergency room on West Maui can treat that will literally save lives. A few examples are: opening an alternative to a blocked airway required for oxygen to the patient, poison countermeasures, stopping bleeding in time before patients bleed out and die, emergency baby deliveries, etc. We have received letters and proposals from other Hawaii doctors who have strongly endorsed the proposed E.R. at the West Maui Hospital and who, unlike Dr. Lavenson, currently are actively board-certified and serve at remote Hawaii hospital emergency rooms at North Hawaii Community Hospital, Wahiawa General Hospital, Hale Ho’ola Hamakua, and Kahuku Medical Center. Evidence of this has been provided to the Lahaina News as submitted by Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated (HEPA).

The West Maui Hospital and Medical Center Foundation Inc. has a commitment to be the bridge between the newly formed West Maui Hospital Foundation Inc. and the West Maui community. Please join with us in our support of better health care on Maui at this urgently needed facility that will literally save lives! Please contact us at (808) 661-7990 or visit www.westmauihospital.org.

JOSEPH D. PLUTA,, President, West Maui Hospital and Medical Center Foundation Inc.


Mahalo for helping after bad fall

Mahalo to the people who came to my assistance on Dec. 27, when I fell on the pavement outside of the Lahaina Cannery Mall. Due to their speedy and intelligent caring, I didn’t even have to worry about my condition. They even got a cab for me, although the Maui Medical Group (which I went to) could not help me, because I didn’t have the right medical insurance. Since I didn’t have the $150 or so out-of-pocket cost it would take to see one of their doctors, I chose another alternative.

Thanks to the Maui Bus driver who told me it would probably be easier to back out of the bus rather than step forward. He was right. I owe great appreciation to the passenger also going to the emergency room at Maui Memorial Medical Center, who let me lean on his arm as we walked together. I was more concerned about him than I was about myself, for his neck injury seemed to me something severe.

I received excellent care at the hospital emergency room – professional and caring. No bones broken.

Thanks go to my landlady, who drove all the way from Lahaina to Wailuku to give me a ride home, and also to a friend who lets me use her walker when I need it.

Although my nose injuries resemble those of a prizefighter just coming out of the ring, I am grateful that my healing can take place one day at a time. I am learning, at age 78, that even though my mind will tell me I can do something, my legs have to have their say, too.



Hawaii Health Connector picking up momentum

Many took advantage of the extra day to enroll. We have made significant increases in enrollment over the past few days, but we know there are still many more in Hawaii that we would like to reach. We would like to continue this positive momentum through the remainder of this open enrollment period, which ends March 31, 2014.

It’s important to note that although the deadline to have health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014 has passed, individuals still have until March 31, 2014 to enroll in a plan through the Hawaii Health Connector to receive important tax subsidies and avoid tax penalties. If they sign up by Jan. 15, 2014, coverage begins on Feb. 1, 2014.

For those that made a good-faith effort to complete an application but are unsure of the application status, we encourage those consumers to call our Customer Support Center. We will review applications on a case-by-case basis.

A total of 2,034 individuals have enrolled in a health plan, and 296 businesses have applied for a health plan through the connector as of Dec. 25. There were dramatic surges in individual enrollment in the last two days leading up to the Dec. 24 deadline, with 575 enrollments completed on Dec. 23 and 24.

Until last week, the connector’s Customer Support Center was receiving an average of 450 calls per day. The number of phone calls climbed within the last week and peaked at 2,772 calls on Dec. 23. In addition to the calls, the Customer Support Center was able to respond to 3,000 additional inquiries from those who left messages.

There were 10,653 unique visitors to the connector’s website from Dec. 22 to 24, representing an increase of 60 percent over the period from Dec. 19 to 21. There were also 40,919 page views, or a 90 percent increase during the same periods.

The Marketplace Assister Organizations statewide also played a major role in the enrollment process. As of Dec. 23, more than 5,000 applications have been generated from the MAOs. Thank you for your continued support.

TOM MATSUDA, Executive Director, Hawaii Health Connector


Keep free speech in America

Arts and Entertainment television was out of line for suspending Phil Robertson for a recent statement that the network executives did not appreciate. They may not have liked his Bible quote, but he was stating his personal belief and not speaking on behalf of the network. I realize that he is employed by the network, but that should not prohibit him from stating his opinion.

Every American in most circumstances has an opinion, and many will disagree or agree depending on the subject. Because someone states something does not mean that it is reality, except in that person’s mind. However, there are many circles of shared belief throughout our world.

My opinion is based on my background, upbringing, Bible reading, education, personal studies, media, folk tales and even common sense.

I don’t like everything I see on television, read in the paper or hear on the radio. However, I have yet to eliminate any of the three from my life. I don’t like everything I see and hear in church, but I still go. Yet, I believe in the freedom of religion, just like I believe in the freedom of people to state their opinions and quote their favorite books, whether it’s the Bible or Reader’s Digest.

As a free society, our task is to muddle through the free speech and make a sensible determination. Free speech encourages or offends people. However, the goal of speech should never be to limit human rights to anyone. A worthy goal for us all is to use our free speech to make America better, even though words can burn – as in the case of Robertson’s statements. Again, just because somebody makes a statement does not mean that it is reality, except in the mind of the person who made the statement. The statement simply is a window into that person’s soul.

I may not agree with what you say or even like it, but let’s please preserve the First Amendment. A good America is a free America, and a free America means free speech.



Give people a chance to comment on Kahoma Village

The following letter was sent to county officials.)

Why is it you don’t have this important meeting date, Jan. 8, 2014, listed for the public? This is regarding the Kahoma Village Project, an affordable housing project surrounded by Front Street, Kenui Street (Front Street Apartments) and Honoapiilani Highway.

According to Joanne Ridao, there is a site inspection meeting at Kahoma Bridge at 10 a.m. County Council members will be meeting in Lahaina and then later holding a Land Use Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. in Wailuku.

This is a site visit to inspect the property: 24 acres owned by the Weinberg Foundation and developer Stanford Carr. I receive notices for everything, but for some reason, there is not one single mention of this meeting anywhere on public sites, nor have I received any e-mail notice.

I think that the public should have the right to know about this meeting on Jan. 8, 2014. To date, very few people are aware of what is happening with this 24-acre parcel that has been a dumping ground for 50 years. For the record, even the people that live around this property have the right to know what is happening, and to date, most of the property owners haven’t even been contacted regarding the project at all (meaning many didn’t receive letters originally from the developer during the beginning process).

How can the public give you feedback if they don’t know about the meeting? This has been fast-tracked through the system, but I am requesting you slow down and allow public input! Baby Beach is already practically dead; this project will seriously impact the health and most likely be the death of our beloved shoreline. Especially egregious is the fact that the developer is asking for significant “exclusions” that should be evaluated by everyone involved.

This project has a huge footprint long-term affect with a significant impact on the entire State of Hawaii on numerous social, ecological, environmental, and financial levels, and on our individual lives (especially for all of us that will have to put up with this project for four years of nonstop noise, dust and congestion in an already overdeveloped environment).

Our infrastructure cannot handle what is already allocated. We don’t have enough water, and our sewer system is overloaded. Police and firemen are stretched to the limit. There is no more room at Lahaina Aquatic Center area for children. Even worse, the ocean, the aina and all our people will have to live with this hasty decision for the rest of our lives.

Meanwhile, across the street, there are many brand new structures still sitting vacant – and have been for a year or more – so please be sure to evaluate more than just this vacant property. Please inspect the entire neighborhood, including the Buddha and graveyard across the street, and make a point to walk along Baby Beach at low tide. It will break your heart!

Is it possible to reschedule these meetings on this parcel of land until you have it properly posted and advised the entire state of this meeting?



Bypass speed limit too low

I just recently had the opportunity to drive the new Lahaina Bypass. Whether you like the bypass idea or not, it is now here to stay. What a great job Goodfellow Brothers did on the first two phases of what must have been a complicated project. While now it really doesn’t serve much of a function, when future phases are completed, we should finally have an answer to Lahaina congestion.

The only problem is that the speed limit is 30 mph on the bypass in the middle of nowhere with just two ends and one exit. Given that the highway through town is a 35 mph speed limit, it seems the bypass around it should be a bit faster? It doesn’t have to become a super highway, but a 40 or 45 mph speed limit would be much more appropriate.