Final patient leaves West Oahu hospital

Hawaii Medical Center West closes doors

 UPDATED 4:53 AM HST Dec 29, 2011
HONOLULU -

Only staff at the administrative and finance offices of Hawaii Medical Center West remain on the job now that all the patients have been discharged or transferred to other facilities.

Most of the hospital at HMC West went dark Wednesday night as the last patient was transferred to HMC East at around 2:30 p.m.

Ed Downing's wife is a professor who trained nurses at the hospital. She must now do the clinical work elsewhere. He worries for his community.

"It’s in our neighborhood. We live across the street here," said Edward Downing.

His family has switched to Kaiser Permanente and in the case of an emergency they will have to travel farther for care.

"We have a Kaiser plan, so we have to go down to Moanalua. It’s a pretty far ride in pain," said Downing. "I don’t know what the future looks like for here, a lot of houses and shopping centers but we don’t have a nearby hospital."

Lawmakers had been warned that HMC West would be the first of the two bankrupt hospitals to close.

They remain hopeful for the long term that someone will step in and eventually reopen to serve the community.

Hawaii Pacific Health has said its interested but formal talks with St. Francis which owns the land and buildings can't happen until the facility officially closes and the books and debt are cleared.

"We are hopeful that one of our local entities will take over that hospital and hire back our people and run it like a local hospital so we are anxious awaiting what happens next," said Rep. Ryan Yamane, who chairs the House health committee.

The shutdown has put lawmakers on alert about the strain on remaining health care facilities and the fear about what could happen if another hospital gets in a financial bind.

"We are very concerned if Wahiawa General, or Pali Momi, or any other additional hospitals are unable to keep their doors open, especially in the emergency room services. That would have a huge impact on the leeward and central Oahu areas," Yamane said

HMC’s CEO Maria Kostylo said there are 20 patients remaining at HMC east.

"Transferring them has been challenging, and we need area hospitals and long-term care facilities to step in and help as they had earlier pledged to do," Kostylo said.

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