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HMSA Foundation Supports Efforts to Develop Healthcare Workforce on Maui


Hale Makua Health Services (HMHS) has received a $10,000 grant to help grow more local workers to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) to address a current nurses shortage.

These funds, provided by the HMSA Foundation, will provide educational and clinical training to at least 10 individuals annually. After successfully completing the program, graduates will be offered employment with HMHS.

“With the senior population on Maui anticipated to grow over 40% by 2025, we need to begin working on developing our healthcare workforce locally now,” said HMHS CEO Wesley Lo.  “Continuing to bring in nursing staff from the mainland is simply an untenable workforce solution.”

“The HMSA Foundation supports Hale Makua because it is training Maui workers on site and offers a career pathway that will give healthcare workers dignity and purpose,” said Amy Asselbaye, HMSA Foundation Executive Director. “In a community-based setting, healthcare creates the opportunity to connect with our neighbors and community and to see each other as real people.”

In January, in partnership with the University of Hawaii Maui College, HMHS launched a LPN educational program to focus on training LPNs in an effort to provide relief from the LPN shortage being felt not only at HMHS, but across the State of Hawaii. As the number of LPNs statewide decrease, HMHS like many healthcare organizations, has found it necessary to turn to agencies to fly in LPNs. These temporary LPNs come at a premium cost and have contract periods of 13 weeks, which lead to instability for patients and staff.

According to the Hawaii State Center for Nursing’s 2017 Nursing Workforce Report, there has been a “substantial decline” of 12 percent in the number of LPN licenses in Maui County between 2015 and 2017. In 2015, there were 434 LPNs and in 2017, 384. This decrease is due in large part to nurses choosing to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN), forgoing practice as an LPN.

LPNs typically work in nursing homes and residential care homes, where they make up a larger percentage of the workforce than RNs. Between Hale Makua’s nursing homes and home health care agency, there are a total of 40 full-and part-time RNs, whereas the organization needs a total of 47 LPNs to fulfill care needs in its nursing homes, adult residential care home and adult day health program. Currently HMHS has a total of 14 LPN positions that are filled by temporary staff at an additional cost of $500,000 annually. A large portion of the added expense can be attributed to the need to pay for traveling agency nurse’s housing.

The first class of 10 students who enrolled in the LPN educational program began their courses and medical training at Hale Makua Wailuku on January 8, 2018. The State-approved course work will continue through December. Upon completion students will need to pass a State-required exam to become a practicing LPN. Hale Makua currently has enough LPN vacancies to offer jobs to each of these LPN graduates.

About HMSA Foundation

HMSA Foundation aims to foster greater empowerment for communities when it comes to Hawaii’s health and wellbeing. The Foundation’s funding priorities include endeavors that aim to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live a healthy life; initiatives that seek to strengthen our culture, policies, and practices for a healthier Hawaii; and projects that contribute to building ecosystems of health within our communities.

Tags: Community Giving, Careers