Petition seeks ouster of 4 Hawaii hospital leaders over COVID-19 policies

An online petition started by an ICU nurse at Maui Memorial Medical Center seeks the immediate resignation of four of its leaders, alleging that the Wailuku, Hawaii-based hospital is jeopardizing the safety of healthcare staff and the Maui community.

As of 7:12 a.m. CDT April 14, the petition, on, had 4,907 signatures. It calls for the resignations of CEO Michael Rembis, COO Debbie Walsh, Chief Nurse Executive Gary Kienbaum and Lisa Paulson, director of strategic communications.

"The named above have and continue to implement abusive and dangerous policies, putting both healthcare staff and the Maui community at risk during the COVID-19 health crisis," the petition states.

Aaron Bear, an intensive care unit nurse, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he started the petition after seeing what he views as prioritization of cost savings over staff and patient safety, including denying personal protective equipment to staff not working directly with patients infected with COVID-19 and initially not allowing staff to use protective equipment brought from home. Mr. Bear said he believes such policies allowed COVID-19 to spread in the hospital.

On April 10, the hospital announced three employees and one patient were confirmed by the state as having COVID-19. The hospital has increased the  number of Maui Memorial employees in home isolation for COVID-19 in the past three weeks to 19. On April 12, the state reported 31 COVID-19 cases connected to the hospital: 22 workers and nine patients, according to the Star-Advertiser. Some tests were pending.

The newspaper could not reach Maui Memorial for comment late April 12.

In a news release April 10, the hospital said it "has been following CDC guidelines regarding the use of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the guidelines have evolved, our protocols have changed to align with the new recommendations."

The hospital added: "While we cannot comment on personnel matters, we are committed to supporting our employees, keeping them safe and helping them through this pandemic."


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