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LETTERS for January 28 issue

By Staff | Jan 28, 2016

West Maui Hospital can’t treat life-threatening cases

At a recent meeting of the West Maui Taxpayers Association, as reported in The Maui News on Jan. 16, 2016, the people of West Maui were once again told that the West Maui Hospital (WMH) was to be a “full-service hospital” and a “first-responder hospital in the event that you have a critical accident or need for critical care or acute care,” it can be taken care of in West Maui. But there is no way that a 24-bed hospital with limited staff can do that. The leading life-threatening conditions (accidents, heart attacks and strokes) require very complicated care by many specialty physicians, nurses and technologists, a very complicated facility with a blood bank, ICU, cardiac cath lab, etc., and the care given pretty much within the “golden hour” if your life is to be saved. Delay in a small hospital that cannot do the job doesn’t save lives – it takes them.

West Maui citizens have contributed well over $800,000, and our government has given the green light to the WMH because of what amounts to incorrect information. Our County Council was told by a leading proponent that the WMH would save hundreds of lives. Not one critical care physician was included on the WMH Foundation or in the consideration of the WMH, which appears telling to me. The proponents keep emphasizing that the WMH is a “critical access hospital,” but that only means that it is remote and not “critical care.”

I do know what I am talking about regarding the care of life-threatening conditions. I am a semi-retired general-vascular-trauma surgeon, was chief of surgery of a combat hospital in Vietnam, and was chairman of the Central California Trauma System; when asked I voluntarily left my practice and returned to the Army to serve in a combat hospital in the Gulf War, recently helped care for our casualties evacuated to Germany from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and currently teach physicians in Hawaii Advanced Trauma Life Support at Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu.

What happens in situations like this is that once a hospital comes, the property value goes up, because of ancillary medical needs such as pharmacies, and the land owners and those in real estate do well, even if the hospital does not make it financially.

Realistically, a WMH could provide minor surgery and mid-line medical care, which would be a convenience to those on the West Side and take pressure and work load off of the emergency department at Maui Memorial Medical Center. But this needs to be honestly made clear to all if needless deaths and confusion are to be avoided in the future.



County should acquire MLP tract in Napili

Rumor has it that Maui Land & Pineapple Company is considering selling the parcel of land between Pineapple Hill and Napili Park. This parcel extends from Highway 30 to Lower Honoapiilani Road and includes the gulch on the north side of Hui Road F.

This parcel would make for an ideal expansion of Napili Park and could include walking and biking trails, picnic areas and possibly space for additional soccer and baseball fields.

With the populations of Kahana and Napili growing, the needs for open space and recreational opportunities grow as well. We hope that the County of Maui will consider negotiating with MLP to purchase the land for much-needed park area.



Hawaii’s war on personal freedom

Hawaii is ushering in the New Year with the introduction of a law making it illegal for people between the ages of 18 and 20 to obtain tobacco products. Fines will be imposed on those selling tobacco to individuals in this age range, as well as those purchasing it, following a three-month grace period. Similar laws have been passed in cities around the country, including New York and Boston.

The bill was passed by Democratic Gov. David Ige. One would hope the Democrats would be better served by supporting less drug prohibition, rather than more. It is amazing any young people or those with even a shred of anti-authoritarian sentiment would be supportive of a party so enthusiastic about taking their liberties away.

If you can be asked to vote or told to fight and die for your country, you should be able to make your own choices about tobacco use. Such a denial of liberty is both the height of authoritarianism and highly insulting to young people. Frankly, we should be teaching teens to make responsible choices rather than denying them choice. The last thing we need is the continued infantilization of American teens by the government. If you want people to act like adults, treat them as such.

Much of the support for the new law comes at the behest of the U.S. military, which does not find smokers to be the best soldiers. Have we become some sort of Sparta-style military state where even civilians have to give up liberties to keep the armed forces happy? It sounds a little too much like the terrorists have won already. We live in an age in which the risks of tobacco use are well known to everyone old enough to partake in it, and the use of tobacco products is trending downward. Thus, such authoritarian measures can hardly be argued as necessary.

In a free society, people should be able to make their own decisions, including bad ones, and deal with the consequences. Just because the state uses taxpayer money to fund some medical care doesn’t mean it should be permitted to further erode liberty in the name of “public health.” This is especially true when much of the inflated cost of medical care is also due to state intervention. Decisions in general should be left to the individual.

Ironically, I suspect the three-month grace period will see young smokers and their friends heavily stocking up on tobacco supplies while they can. Of course the $10 to $50 imposed on young smokers appear to be created first and foremost to take more money from young people.

I am in no way a fan of the tobacco industry, but having the state actively persecute it only helps to legitimize its claims of unfair treatment. Let’s start treating 18- to 20-year-olds as adults and discontinue the growing trend of treating them as children. Furthermore, let’s end authoritarian practices in the name of public health and Hawaii’s war on personal freedom.



School choice matters for Hawaii’s families

When it comes to K-12 education, America’s parents want more choices.

In fact, almost two-thirds of parents – 64 percent – say they wish they had more options for their children’s education.

In a society where Americans choose practically everything, from the brands of coffee they drink in the morning to the types of cars they drive, it is understandable that parents are demanding more of a say in where they send their children to school.

Parents understand that with greater options come better results for their children. Every child is unique, with distinctive interests and learning styles. Moms and dads know that a school that might work for one student might not be a good fit for another.

This week, millions of Americans will raise awareness about the importance of school choice at an unprecedented 16,140 events – including 66 events in Hawaii. These events are planned to coincide with National School Choice Week, the largest celebration of opportunity in education in US history.

For families in the Aloha State, National School Choice Week provides a good opportunity to review the different types of education options available to their children.

Parents can choose from schools in the public sector, such as traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, or online academies. Parents can also pay to send their children to private schools, or educate their children in the home.

Parents who are not happy with their children’s current schools, or would like to explore their options, should use January to consider the alternatives available to them. Families can use National School Choice Week as an opportunity to visit schools, ask lots of questions of teachers and administrators, and talk with other parents to find a school that may be a better fit.

Starting the school search process in January, rather than waiting until summer break, means that parents have more options available to them.

Of course, some – if not many – parents in Hawaii will find that they do not have as many education options as children and families in other states. For these families, National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to stand up and have their voices and opinions heard.

Providing greater access to education options in Hawaii and across the country is essential, not just for individual families, but for the future prosperity of communities.

Research has demonstrated that when parents actively choose the schools their children attend, or choose to educate their children in the home, high school graduation rates increase dramatically.

A student with a high school diploma will, over the course of his or her life, earn more than $250,000 than a student who has dropped out. High school graduates are far less likely to be incarcerated, and are six times more likely to participate in community and civic affairs, than individuals without high school diplomas.

In the short term, and over the long haul, school choice pays dividends.

Most importantly, though: school choice matters because every child in America has potential. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders, and together, we must do everything possible to prepare them for success.

ANDREW R. CAMPANELLA, National School Choice Week President