Kauai Medical Clinic chief resigns

Ken Pierce, the president and chief executive officer of Kauai Medical Clinic, resigned from his post yesterday.

“It has been my privilege to serve as president and CEO of KMC, and I am very proud of what the clinic team has accomplished over the past few years,” Pierce said in a prepared statement issued to The Garden Island after an inquiry. “Implementing a new plan for the clinic has been perhaps the biggest challenge of my nearly 12 years here on Kaua‘i, and I am very pleased that we were able to bring in new services and improve access to care.”

Wilcox Health issued a statement as a result of the same inquiry: “We want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Ken Pierce for his efforts over these many years on behalf of the clinic and healthcare on Kaua‘i. We wish him the very best in his future endeavors.”

Pierce, a former emergency-room physician, took over as chief medical officer of Kauai Medical Clinic in March 2005.

In September of that year, he assumed executive leadership of the clinic, filling a position vacated by Dr. Lee A. “Bill” Evslin.

In a 2005 interview, Evslin said irreconcilable differences with Hawai‘i Pacific Health management prompted his decision to leave after more than two years at the post.

Prior to last year’s 126-day strike by Wilcox Memorial Hospital nurses, Pierce announced plans to bring in replacements from the Mainland and Hawai‘i.

He told The Garden Island at the time that he hoped to minimize “unpleasantness” during the strike, though the hospital would respond to issues as they arose.

The strike began in June 2006 after 140 nurses declined to renew their contracts with the hospital, protesting working conditions and low staffing levels. It was not until October 2006 that the two parties reached an agreement and the nurses returned to work.

The more than four-month-long strike catalyzed an investigation into the 2001 merger of Wilcox and Hawai‘i Pacific Health.

That merger is now the subject of a state Senate resolution that may require hearings on Kaua‘i. The fate of Senate Concurrent Resolution 170 is yet to be determined by the Legislature.

Kauai Medical Clinic is affiliated with Wilcox Memorial Hospital, and collectively the two are known as Wilcox Health.

The clinic has 72 physicians and mid-level providers offering 22 medical specialties at six locations on Kaua‘i, according to Hawaii Pacific Health’s Web site.

The clinic continues to provide the majority of primary and secondary care to the island.

“My plans are to pursue my passions, which are medical consulting, mission work, and being able to spend much more time with my family,” Pierce said in the statement.

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