WAILUKU >> Kaiser Permanente officials are encouraging Maui residents to apply for jobs at three public hospitals on the island as they scramble to fill positions before the state facilities become private this summer.
The state will transfer Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital to Kaiser July 1. The private health care provider was selected to take control of the financially troubled hospitals in 2015.
“We don’t want the transition to be the reason people would hold back on applying,” said Jean Melnikoff, vice president of human resources for Kaiser Permanente. “If you have friends or neighbors or family interested and want to come work but they’re waiting, tell them do not wait.”
There are benefits to putting in applications as soon as possible. Employees will get credit for the service time they have with the Maui Region of Hawaii Health System Corp. and can start accruing time off and retirement benefits, Melnikoff said.
More than 90 percent of the 1,500 state hospital employees have accepted jobs with Kaiser, Malenikoff said. But hospital officials have reported staffing shortages and overworked employees over the past year as the transition was stalled by union and contract dues, The Maui News reported.
Melnikoff said positions that still need to be filled include registered nurses and nurse’s aides and jobs in lab and diagnostic imaging, physical and occupation therapy and clerical positions.
Kaiser physician Dr. Andrew Tan, Maui Memorial’s interim trauma medical director, said he is hopeful the hospitals will hire more trauma surgeons. He became interim director in February 2016 as the hospital was at risk of losing its Level III trauma designation, which indicates the level of trauma care a hospital can provide.
“At times through the year we didn’t have orthopedic surgery,” Tan said. “It was a problem because sometimes people had fairly straightforward fractures that normally would get fixed here. But there was no one here that could fix them. They would get sent to Oahu, which everyone knows is sort of a pain.”
Maui Memorial Medical Center has since made progress by cutting down its orthopedic trauma transfers to Oahu by 70 to 75 percent over the last six months, said Dr. Warren “Vic” Ayers, a Kaiser Permanente orthopedic surgeon who was brought in from California last fall.
“We’re trying to make the community more comfortable about the hospital,” Ayers said.
Candidates for the job vacancies will need to apply with the state, undergo screening and present all proper documents. If a person were to be hired before the July transition, Melnikoff said, the switch from state employee to private employee “is not complicated at all.”