- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - Maui Medical Group is scrambling to fill positions in its obstetrics and gynecology department in response to the loss of yet another doctor.

Officials with the organization said last week that their third physician is scheduled to leave by July 31. That means the health organization must find a temporary replacement if services are to continue in August, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/29xIfUd).

“We’re working as hard as we can to provide all the coverage that we can to cover these unanticipated holes in the program,” said Dr. William Mitchell, Maui Medical Group’s president and chief executive officer.

Mitchell said the search for a temporary physician could take one to three weeks and finding a permanent hire could take up to a year.

Local clinics offering ob-gyn services had been inundated with more than 100 pregnant patients referred to them by Maui Medical Group when only two physicians were known to be leaving. Doctors have expressed concerns about how Maui Medical Group, one of the island’s largest health care providers, has handled its staffing shortage.

“The burden that MMG has placed on the community physicians is substantial,” said Dr. Stacy Ammerman in a Maui News column published Sunday. “It has forced us to hire more help, including locums (temporary) physicians, until permanent spots are filled.”

Ammerman, an ob-gyn doctor at Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons, also said the announcement of the doctors’ departures has left patients “scrambling throughout the community to find care,”

Dr. Celeste Adrian at Stellar Women’s Health Specialists in Wailuku said she received 40 new patients within the first two weeks of referrals from Maui Medical. She typically only averages about 20 to 25 new ob-gyn patient appointments per month.

“That’s like two months’ worth of new patients,” Adrian said. “As a private practice, it’s hard for me to complain about being busy, but there is a point when you feel a kuleana to the community that you on your own cannot meet.”

Mitchell and Cliff Alakai, Maui Medical Group’s administrator, said the group didn’t find out about the doctors’ departure plans until May.

“When our colleagues in the community say they should’ve known in advance, we don’t know in advance,” Mitchell said. “This could happen to any small program or department… . ob-gyn is a very highly sought-after specialty across the country.”

Dr. Chastity Edwards, one of Maui Medical Group’s full-time OB-GYN doctors, said she is leaving to move back near her family in the mainland. The other doctors scheduled to leave by the end of the month, Dr. Kylie Brookes and Dr. Melissa Ching, declined to comment.


Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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