When Roy Sakamoto was asked to join the Hale Makua Health Services board of directors 30 years ago, he knew he’d be in it for the long haul. “I started off helping the special events committee,” he said. “And I helped Hale Makua to be named the designated charity for the PGA Senior Tour’s Kaanapali Classic.”

Since then, Sakamoto, the president of Sakamoto Properties, has been actively involved with the organization: Over the past three decades, he’s served as a board member, board chair and currently serves as the board’s treasurer.

Sakamoto says he was inspired to give back to Hale Makua when he witnessed the compassionate care his mother received there. “My mother had dementia and was at Hale Makua Wailuku and then transferred to Hale Makua Kahului,” he said. “I was very impressed with the employees who tended to her. They would speak to her even though she was non-responsive.  They would come in her room and say ‘good morning, Mrs. Sakamoto,’ even though she would not answer. It was very, very touching.”

Hale Makua Health Services was founded in 1946 to house elderly Maui residents who required long-term care, but did not have the financial means to pay for it. Over the years, the nonprofit organization has worked to improve the health and well-being of those in its care through a range of compassionate and personalized services, including around-the-clock care and support at its Wailuku and Kahului facilities. Hale Makua Health Services is Maui’s largest provider of nursing home and health care for the elderly and is the only Eden Alternative-registered home in the state. Its long-term care communities are both Medicare and Medicaid certified.

“There are many facets to Hale Makua Health Services,” Sakamoto explained. “Besides our nursing home facilities in Wailuku and Kahului, we also offer the best home health agency on Maui, physical rehab, adult day care and a section of our Wailuku facility has been designated as a ‘care home’ for those that do not need full nursing home care. We are the only not-for-profit institutional nursing facility on Maui.”

Without question, Hale Makua Health Services is an essential piece of the healthcare puzzle—and now more than ever. “Healthcare on Maui is in a crisis. At any given time, there is a backlog of 35 or so patients at Maui Memorial Medical Center who do not need the critical care facilities there,” Sakamoto said. “Many could be discharged to Hale Makua for their post-acute care. Bottom line costs for the state are many times higher for patients in the hospital—versus having them in Hale Makua.”

We need to unclog this backlog, he said. “There are times when the hospital has to hold patients in the emergency room because there are no available beds,” Sakamoto said. “We are hopeful the Kaiser takeover of the hospital this year will help ease this strain on the continuum of care on Maui.”

Financial support for Hale Makua Health Services is crucial, as 85 percent of its residents are on Medicaid. “Medicaid does not reimburse us for the costs of supplying quality care for these residents,” Sakamoto explained. “In other words, we lose money on each resident on Medicaid. Also, we have a critical shortage of nursing help and have to fly in CNAs and others from off island, thereby running up our expenses of operations.”

The community can support Hale Makua Health Services in various ways—and one of the simplest ways is to pick up the phone and call state and county lawmakers. “We need legislative help in keeping Hale Makua Health Services viable,” Sakamoto said. “Assistance from the County of Maui and from the state of Hawaii are essential for our fiscal needs—both the county and the state have been very generous in the past and we look forward to their continued support. Please contact Hale Makua through our website to see what legislative actions are pending that would assist us… and then contact the legislators who are involved in the legislation. Currently, we need support for Senate Bill 308 and Senate Bill 374.”

And there are other ways to help. You can make a donation or sign up to volunteer at Hale Makua’s Wailuku or Kahului facilities by visiting www.halemakua.org.

“Supplying quality care is foremost for Hale Makua Health Services,” Sakamoto said. “And it always has been in our 70 years of existence.”

By Sarah Ruppenthal

The Maui News – February 11, 2017

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