West Maui Hospital Planned as 'Feeder' to Maui Memorial Medical Center

By CLAUDINE SAN NICOLAS, Staff Writer, The Maui News

Hospital developer and banker Brian Hoyle (left) answers a question while West Maui Improvement Foundation President Joe Pluta looks on Tuesday during an interview at The Maui News. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU - A new hospital proposed in West Maui will complement, not compete with Maui Memorial Medical Center, according to its developer, Brian Hoyle.

"We're nothing but a feeder to Maui Memorial," added Joe Pluta, president of the West Maui Improvement Foundation, the nonprofit supporting Hoyle in his endeavor to bring a long-awaited hospital to Lahaina.

The State Health Planning and Development Agency has not yet accepted Hoyle's application for a certificate of need to build a hospital in Lahaina, but he and Pluta are aiming to have the approval by the end of October.

"We've crafted something that is doable and financially viable," Hoyle said Tuesday during an interview at The Maui News.

Today, Hoyle, a hospital developer and banker in Newport Beach, Calif., is scheduled to address the Maui Chamber of Commerce during a noon luncheon at the Maui Tropical Plantation. Hoyle is expected to talk about a new model for the county and state's health system.

In February, Hoyle filed an application to build a 25-bed critical access hospital with a 40-bed skilled nursing facility on a 14.9-acre site adjacent to the Lahaina Civic Center.

With the help of state health planning staff, Hoyle said he's making a concerted effort to ensure his application fulfills all requirements and that it does not face the kind of opposition and eventual failure seen last year in the proposed Malulani Hospital for South Maui.

Unlike Malulani, the proposed West Maui hospital would be small yet still offer services such as angioplasty and orthopedics, Hoyle said. "Maui Memorial will always be the major hospital," Hoyle said.

The key in the proposed West Maui hospital's financial success will be to obtain federal designation as a critical-access hospital. Such a designation would ensure the hospital receives 101 percent reimbursement for patients in Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs.

Hoyle said his experience in the development of about 50 privately owned hospitals and health care facilities on the Mainland has taught him to focus on a community and a rural hospital model.

Successful health care systems also incorporate a "follow the reimbursement" model, which ensures financial viability. Hospitals receive critical care access designations and benefits from the federal government in part because of a facility's ability to provide health care services to geographically isolated places such as West Maui.

Hoyle's certificate application provides for a hospital and nursing facility with a development cost of approximately $50 million. Hoyle said he plans to recruit doctors who will not only work for the hospital, but invest in the facility as well.

Once the certificate application is deemed complete, reviews by three separate panels are expected all to be held on Maui, possibly as early as January or February of 2009. If the proposed facility is approved by state officials, Hoyle would seek county land use approvals.

It will take at least two years to construct the medical facility, which puts its earliest completion sometime in 2011.