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Waimea hospital names new acting president

North Hawaii Community Hospital has appointed a new acting president in the wake of the hospital’s recent formal affiliation with The Queen’s Health Systems.

Kenneth D. Graham assumes the acting president position effective immediately. He most recently served as a consultant supporting hospital planning, clinical integration, corporate alignment and neighbor island health in the office of The Queen’s Health Systems President and CEO Art Ushijima.

The formal affiliation between the Waimea-based hospital and The Queen’s Health Systems, corporate parent of The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, became official Wednesday.

Graham’s primary role and focus, according to The Queen’s Health Systems, will be to “create a relationship of cooperation and trust between Queen’s and both NHCH and the people of North Hawaii” and to improve the hospital’s financial standing. He served as a consultant to The Queen’s Health Systems in its affiliation with North Hawaii Community Hospital.

“I have been in big hospitals and small hospitals, and what we’re doing here is really fundamental alignment work,” said Graham, who resides in Waimea. “Both (vice president of Finance and Operations) Marilyn (Hata) and I feel very confident that we have a lot of things to do, but we’re very optimistic this will be a very viable and popular hospital as it moves forward.”

Though relatively mum on the financial situation, Ushijima said The Queen’s Health Systems is “infusing cash capital” into the hospital while it assesses the financial situation in terms of expenses and reimbursements.

“We’re going to provide some immediate working capital,” he said, noting the hospital’s roof, which is in need of repair, and issues with the telephone system. “We’re putting some capital into it.”

In announcing the affiliation between The Queen’s Health Systems and North Hawaii Community Hospital on Dec. 16, NHCH Board of Directors Chairman Bob Momsen said the hospital has operated at an annual loss of about $4 million. To reduce those losses, the hospital, as part of the improvement program, in 2013 hired Huron Consulting Group, which identified potential savings and revenue sources that, even without an affiliation with The Queen’s Health Systems, he said, would have ensured the hospital broke even in 2014.

Graham is the former president and CEO of the 337-bed Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Washington. He has also held executive positions with 2,400-bed Daughters of Charity Health System in California and 350-bed Long Beach Community Hospital in California. He is certified in medical record administration and health care administration.

Graham holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles. He was also involved in the activation of The Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu.

In addition to Graham being appointed acting president, Queen’s named Hata as acting vice president of Finance and Operations at the hospital. Hata, whom The Queen’s Health Systems said has extensive practice management consulting experience with a number of physicians, previously served as a business development consultant for Queen’s. Born and raised in Hilo, Hata holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Graham will serve as acting director and Hata vice president as the search continues for a permanent president, Ushijima said.

“Are we going to be doing a search? Yes, once we get ourselves established with a transition team and develop a profile for the type of person and background that would fit well within the community,” Ushijima told West Hawaii Today. “In the meantime, we need to get things going.”

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