Wilcox merger talk heats up again

LIHU’E – Wilcox Health System, operator of Wilcox Memorial Hospital, has decided to look deeper into a possible merger with other healthcare providers.

The proposed affiliation with Straub Clinic and Kapi’olani Health is seen by proponents as a way to meet future demands for healthcare, though officials say it could also result in layoffs.

Because of rising costs of healthcare, competition for patients, cuts in government and insurance payments and high levels of unreimbursed care, mergers among healthcare providers have become routine, according to Wilcox, Straub and Kapi’olani.

A final decision on this newest proposed merger could occur by the end of this year, officials said.

Some jobs could be eliminated by a merger, but officials said they hope the positions could be absorbed through vacancies, retirement or attrition.

“We are discussing an affiliation, not the purchase of one system by another,” the three organizations said in a prepared statement. They said the partnership would be non-profit.

Earlier merger talks produced an agreement among the three to enter into formal discussions for at least five or six months before a final decision.

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