WAILUKU >> Privatizing three public hospitals is on hold as a union fights a lower court’s ruling.
The state attorney general filed a motion Friday asking that the transition process be allowed to continue, the Maui News reported.
Kaiser Foundation Hospitals’ subsidiary Maui Health Systems is scheduled to take over running Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital by July 1.
“The court’s order came six weeks before the transfer to Kaiser,” Attorney General Doug Chin said. “By all accounts that is not enough time to reverse course and run the hospitals as public facilities.”
United Public Workers represents 1,500 Hawaii Health Systems Corp. employees. The group argues the law allowing the hospitals to privatize violates the contracts clause of the U.S. constitution and interferes with collective bargaining agreements.
U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor had dismissed the complaint in February and denied an injunction.
The union appealed her decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, the court issued an injunction.
Union officials could not be reached for comment.
Gov. David Ige signed the law in 2015, and Chin said his top priority is protecting patients in Maui region hospitals. “Our motion offers the court a path to protect UPW members while the appeal is pending and simultaneously let the complex details of the implementation resume,” Chin said.
Maui Region chief executive officer Wesley Lo of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. expressed concerns about the injunction in a statement to the court.
“Running a hospital is an extremely complex business,” Lo said. “The transition must be implemented seamlessly in order to minimize any disruption to patient care. Any such disruption will jeopardize patient safety.”