Twice in one week! Who would have thought …
While reading last week’s Honolulu Star-Bulletin I was pleasantly surprised to see that Punahou74 had two classmates who raised their “Island Voices” while advocating issues of local interest. I wonder how your opinion aligns with theirs.
The Threatened Closure of Wahiawa General Hospital
First up was Ellen Sofio whose Monday, April 25 piece, “Wahiawa General shouldn’t be replaced by hospital in Koa Ridge” addressed the imminent threatened closure of the hospital. Ellen was concerned for Wahiawa General patients who travel from up to thirty miles to use its emergency room and occupy 52 inpatient acute and 107 skilled nursing beds.
As a primary care physician working in Wahaiwa for the past four years, I am very concerned about the precarious state of the health safety net for Wahiawa, Waialua, Haleiwa, Mililani and Kunia. Imminently endangered are not only the critical preventative, emergency and inpatient services of Wahiawa General Hospital (WGH) — the only readily accessible hospital for a population of 110,000 people — but also the few remaining practices providing access to comprehensive care.
The demise of WGH would derail efforts to develop a federally qualified community health center for the area, sacrificing a critical opportunity to bring urgently needed federal dollars and a more stable health infrastructure to a community experiencing epidemic levels of diabetes, hypertension and cancer as well as extremely high rates of kidney failure. WGH is the only readily accessible medical facility providing screening for breast, lung, colorectal and urologic cancers, and the only area hospital that admits dialysis patients.
Recent revelations about WGH’s possible closure prompted over 7,000 signatures and an upwelling of community support for the hospital within days. Hundreds packed legislative hearings about the hospital’s need for funding, with many testifying to life-saving interventions that have affected them personally. The community is obviously passionate about its health care needs and loyal to its embattled hospital, including its wonderful on-site rehabilitation and long-term care facility. So what are the undermining forces?
The glacial progress toward establishing a community health center since Wahiawa received a medically underserved designation over five years ago has not helped to offset WGH’s financial woes, especially as the impending departure of the UH family practice residency program for Pali Momi portends a major void. Sadly, over 100 family practice residents have completed their hospital training at WGH but not one has stayed on to serve the community. WGH serves an 85 percent Medicare and Medicaid population and to its credit, is the only nonprofit hospital in the state.
Despite these factors, it would not be fair to absolve WGH’s leadership of any responsibility for the hospital’s current condition. A legal brief last year available online — No. CAAP-13-0000042 in the Intermediate Court of Appeals State of Hawaii — provides a comprehensive narrative of events involving the WGH board starting in the late 1990s.
With attorney Rodney Sato at the helm, and a gift of 250 acres at Koa Ridge to the hospital by Castle &Cooke as a catalyst, the board changed course and began devoting its energies to the concept of building a “replacement” hospital more than halfway down the H-2 freeway to Pearl City.
State Rep. Marcus Oshiro, a hospital board member at the time, became a champion for idea of a replacement hospital. Wahiawa General Hospital CEO Don Olden has also publicly advocated a move to Koa Ridge.
Oshiro and Olden did not act to introduce a bill or to update a grant-in-aid request for WGH last legislative session, although both surely were aware of the hospital’s urgent need for a subsidy more than a year ago.
As for that planned hospital at Koa Ridge, some believe it would never get the certificate of need it requires from the state to break ground as long as WGH is in operation.
Most of my patients don’t even know where Koa Ridge is. Most of them either don’t drive outside of Wahiawa, or rely on WGH because of the distances they must already travel from Waialua, Haleiwa and Sunset Beach. Vast numbers, including many vulnerable kupuna, would be immediately at risk should the hospital close.
The “Save Our Hospital” campaign and Ellen’s appeal had an impact. At today’s close of the legislative session, the state has budgeted $2.5M for the hospital and $700,000 for the community health center. Good job, Ellen!
Next up was Tom Farrell with his Thursday, April 28 piece, “The rule of law provides freedom; the rule of God does not.”The impetus for Tom’s writing was the May 1 celebration of Law Day a day defined by the American Bar Association as “a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share.”
Here’s what Tom wrote:
May 1 is Law Day throughout the United States.
You won’t get a day off, there won’t be a parade, and lawyers won’t get taken to lunch. Just the same, it’s a good day to reflect on what it means to live in a nation whose central organizing principle is the rule of law. There is no real freedom without it. Yet, this principle is under attack in much of the world, and not entirely accepted here at home.
The defining conflict of this century is a struggle between those who believe in the rule of law and those who believe in the rule of God.
The Islamic State thinks so. Its view was expressed by radical cleric Anjem Choudary, arrested in London in September 2014. Choudary, co-founder of Al Muhajiroun, told CNN in August of that year that the world is defined by two camps: the rule of law camp and a “camp which believes that sovereignty and supremacy belongs to God. They are the Islamic State, at the head of which is [the late] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi … I believe this Islamic State will spread, rapidly, and I believe it will be in Europe and even America within decades.”
Choudary isn’t voicing some jihadist fantasy. His “rule of God” camp is here already. We have today in this country a host of believers who think the Bible should trump the Constitution of the United States. One of them is the Chief Justice of Alabama, who wants to display the Ten Commandments outside his courthouse. Then, there is the Tennessee legislature, which voted on April 5 to make the Bible the “official state book.” God help us!
During the late occupation of Iraq, an endeavor in which I participated as an American Army officer, we urged Iraqi citizens to vote to ratify a proposed constitution. Many of them asked us, “Why do we need this? We have the holy Koran. What law written by man can be better than the law of God?”
Here is why the rule of law is the only hope for peace and freedom, and why the rule of God is a false idol.
First, whose god makes the rules? There are many religions in the world; most of them think they have a monopoly on truth. Much of the carnage in the history of our world occurred because one side thought the other was toting the wrong bible.
Most wars today are sectarian. Until the world is of one religion (a goal the Islamic State thinks is just fine), there will be no peace where nations are organized on the rule of God.
Second, where theocracy rules, heresy is a crime. There is no freedom to practice religion, except for those who happen to belong to the favored one. Don’t even think of apostasy. Conform or die. Yet conformity is anathema to progress.
Third, God gives no rights to man. Only the law does. In medieval England, an accused criminal could be tortured. If he survived, that was proof that he was innocent before God. Somewhat later, the law afforded the right to a trial by a jury and based on actual evidence. Which system do you like?
In the end, the rule of God is nothing more than an excuse for tyranny and oppression. I’ll take the rule of law, thank you.
So Happy Law Day — and many more.