Workers at Maui’s only acute care hospital hope their next leader has ‘ohana-type’ values

Maui Memorial is refusing to answer questions about Maui Health CEO Michael Rembis' unexpected retirement announcement.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 7:59 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 8:09 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The search continues for the next leader of Maui’s only acute care hospital.

Maui Health announced last week that Chief Executive Officer Michael Rembis will be retiring this spring.

In a statement, Maui Health said Rembis “guided the newly formed health system in expanding health services, programs and access, improved quality metrics that met or exceeded national standards, and created a pathway for financial sustainability.”

On Friday, Hawaii News Now confirmed with Maui Health’s communication team an interview with Rembis for Monday.

However on Monday morning, the Communications Director emailed Hawaii News Now saying the interview is cancelled. There was no response after multiple emails were sent back asking for answers.

Rembis’ unexpected retirement announcement comes at a time when hospital census is at an all-time high and employees say morale is at an all-time low.

“It’s extremely full. We got everybody from every job description here that’s been overwhelmed. So, morale is at a low,” said Maui Memorial Medical Center maintenance worker Leonard Rodrigues Jr.

“But we’re trying our best, you know, keeping our smile on and getting our community the services that they need.”

His departure also comes in the middle of stalled contract negotiations. Hospital staff rallied and sign-waved in the community, with talks about a strike.

“It would hurt the community of Maui really bad,” United Public Workers State Director Kalani Werner said talking about a potential strike. “Our workers are the ones that keeps that the hospital up and running… so, for us to be removed, the hospital would be in dire need.”

There’s a nationwide search for a new CEO.

Rodrigues is asking the search team to hear his plea.

“You want somebody who’s compassionate, has good etiquette, who knows humility and empathy to help their staff and understand that we want to serve the community, but guess what, we are part of the community,” Rodrigues said.

Case management specialist China Kapuras has worked at the hospital for 16 years. She is hoping the search team doesn’t look too far.

“The kind of leader that we want to see is a leader with ties to the people of Hawaii, someone who understands our special type of culture, rooted deep in ohana-type values,” said Kapuras.

“We are a small community with big hearts who want to keep our people here. We want someone who truly understands our culture and our passion for our community.”

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