The leader Maui County’s only acute-care hospital, Maui Health CEO Mike Rembis, announced Friday that he will be retiring this spring.
Despite rumors this week of Rembis’ impending departure amid deep-seated staff dissatisfaction, the leader’s decision to retire has been in the works for some time and he wants to spend more time with family, according to Maui Health spokesperson Tracy Dallarda.
“He told me this is something he’s been planning,” Dallarda told Maui Now on Friday. “When he started five years ago, he had no grandchildren — now he has six.”
A Maui Health news release Friday said Maui Health will begin planning for a smooth leadership transition and will initiate a national search for a new CEO.
Rembis joined Maui Health in 2017 as its first CEO. The Kaiser-affiliate Maui Health covers Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital, and Lānaʻi Community Hospital and clinics of Maui Memorial Outpatient Clinic and Kula Clinic.
The hospital news release Friday touted accomplishments under his leadership, including national recognition in heart, stroke and diabetes care. Also, the health system earned back-to-back Leap Frog Grade A ratings in 2022 – the first in the system’s history, and both Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital earned the highest rating by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS).
“In addition, under Rembis’s leadership, Maui Health recently opened the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Therapy Center and led the recruitment of several new physician specialists to provide care on Maui for the residents and visitors of Maui,” the release said.
Rembis’ tenure, though, was fraught with external and internal stressors, notably the global pandemic and multiple hospital clusters that broke out during the pandemic’s onset. Also, the leader was accused of physician contract failures.
“It is about time he left and his tenure was a failure,” a Maui Health staff physician who requested anonymity over potential job repercussions said Friday in reaction to the news. “There was no working relationship between Maui Health and Kaiser. He marginalized the board and most notably the two physician contracts he brought in have been failures.”
Recently, some hospital staff have been rallying for better pay amid staffing shortages. Also, the hospital’s emergency room has been suffering overcrowding without mitigation tools in place, other employees said.
“As an employee at the hospital with a front-seat show to how busy it has been, I can assure you that no CEO or upper management has been working around the clock. No CEO or upper management has been anywhere close to helping meet the demands of staff or patients,” a letter to Maui Now said. “The Emergency Department has been getting crapped on. The hospital is over capacity which means any patient in the emergency department who gets admitted into the hospital now has to wait in the emergency department until a bed upstairs on the appropriate unit opens up.”
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals is standing behind Rembis, though.
“Mike has guided Maui Health through a critical time in health care and through the unforeseen challenges of the global pandemic” Kim Horn, executive vice president and group president, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, said in the news release. “I am grateful for his leadership and look forward to his partnership as we plan for this leadership transition.”
Rembis is not accepting media interviews until next week.