Queen’s Health Systems and North Hawaii Community Hospital Enter Into Formal Affiliation

The Queen‘s Health Systems (Queen‘s), corporate parent of The Queen‘s Medical Center (QMC), announced today that it has officially entered into an affiliation agreement with North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH).

North Hawaii Community Hospital

North Hawaii Community Hospital

In the agreement, NHCH will become a corporate entity under Queen‘s, similar to QMC and Molokai General Hospital.

QMC has had a clinical affiliation with NHCH since 2005.

“Founded in 1859 by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, Queen‘s has served its mission of providing quality healthcare services for over 153 years,” said Art Ushijima, President & CEO of The Queen‘s Health Systems.  “We will now be able to dedicate ourselves to serving the people of North Hawaii with the same standard of excellence that has been the foundation of our founders‘ values and vision.”

Queen‘s, as part of its affiliation with NHCH, will work with NHCH to assess and address NHCH‘s immediate needs.

“Our priority is to create a relationship of cooperation and trust with NHCH and the people of North Hawaii,”  said Ushijima.  “Given NHCH‘s challenging financial situation, an immediate focus is to stabilize the hospital so that it may start to focus on programs and services for its growth and development—a process which was started under Ho‘okahua, NHCH‘s performance improvement program.”

The affiliation is expected to be effective January 1, 2014. Both Queen‘s and NHCH expect the transition to occur without any disruption of service to the community. The affiliation is subject to state approval.

“This affiliation represents a huge step forward in our ability to meet the healthcare needs of the community of North Hawaii and continue to deliver high quality healthcare at a reasonable cost. Having Queen‘s as our partner will improve every aspect of the hospital,”  said Bob Momsen, NHCH Board of Directors Chairman since 2008.

North Hawaii Community Hospital is a private, non-profit community hospital that serves more than 30,000 residents in North Hawaii. Located in Waimea (Kamuela), Hawaii Island, NHCH opened in May 1996. Its mission is to improve the health of the people of North Hawaii by improving access to care and providing high-quality services at a reasonable cost. NHCH is an acute-care hospital with 33 licensed beds, 24 hour emergency services, 376 employees, and 68 active physicians.

Further substance and status of the agreement are confidential.

 

North Hawaii Community Hospital Awards Numerous Scholarships to Big Island Students

On June 21, North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) awarded scholarships to five Big Island students. Scholarships were presented by Dr. Gary Goldberg, Emergency Physician at NHCH; Dr. W. Douglas Hiller, NHCH Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Staff; and Dr. John Dawson, Primary Care Physician.

NHCH Scholarship Recipients

HCH awarded numerous educational scholarships to five Big Island students. From left to right: (top row) W. Douglas Hiller, M.D., John Dawson M.D., Gary Goldberg, M.D. awarded scholarship recipients (bottom row) June Mohr, Mindy Silva, Allen Gail Yvette Nitura, Michelle Ruiz Sahagun, Malia Silva during Thursday’s ceremony at NHCH.

June Mohr, a resident of Kailua-Kona, received the Peggy Dineen-Orsini Scholarship of $2,000. Mohr is attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is enrolled in Pre-Nursing major with an emphasis on Human Development and Family Resources. “Attending college at UH Manoa gives me a sense of purpose, great satisfaction and much motivation to meet my personal goal of succeeding in my studies and to excel in my chosen career of nursing here in my home state of Hawaii,” says Mohr. Private donors along with the hospital’s Medical Staff fund this scholarship in memory of Peggy Dineen-Orsini, who was a Registered Nurse at North Hawaii Community Hospital for eight years (1996 to 2004).

The second scholarship, funded by the NHCH Medical Staff, was awarded to Allen Gail Yvette Nitura and Malia Silva, offering each individual a $1,000 scholarship. Yvette, a 2013 graduate of Honoka’a High School, will attend Hawaii Pacific University to major in Pre-Nursing, while Maila, a resident of Kailua Kona, is currently attending Hawaii Community College where she is pursuing a Pre-Nursing major. The NHCH Medical Staff annual scholarships are funded through the dues each physician pays to be a member of the medical staff at NHCH.

The third and final scholarship opportunity is funded by Hawai’i Emergency Physicians Associated, Inc. (HEPA), the independent physician-owned group of board-certified physicians who provide staffing in NHCH’s Emergency Department. The two $1,000 HEPA scholarships were awarded to North Hawaii high school students: Michelle Ruiz Sahagun of Kapaau, who will attend the University of Hawaii at Hilo to study Elementary Education, and Mindy Ho’olilani Marie Silva of Honoka’a, who will study Nursing at Hawaii Community College. Scholarship recipient, Ruiz Sahagun, shared, “by advancing my education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, I strongly believe that I will benefit Hawaii’s future students. I believe this scholarship will help make it possible for me to achieve my goals.” For this scholarship, students are asked to write a personal letter describing their future plans and goals and to explain why their financial need is compelling.

All applications were reviewed by the scholarship committees of each sponsoring organization; decisions were based on the criteria and requirements outlined in the scholarship application, which can be found online at www.NHCH.com.

 

North Hawaii Community Hospital Announces William Park, MD, Stepping Down as Group’s Chief Medical Officer

After serving eighteen months as Chief Medical Officer, William I. Park, MD, announced today he will step down from his leadership position in North Hawaii Medical Group (NHMG), effective July 1, 2012. Dr. Park will continue to serve as senior general surgeon and will remain on the hospital’s Board of Directors.

William Park, MD,

“Bill’s importance to NHCH cannot be overstated,” says Robert Momsen, NHCH Chairman of the Board. “In 2008, Bill chose to remain at NHCH because he believed in our future. Had he not had such confidence in NHCH, much of our current successes would not have been possible.”

“Without his leadership, NHCH’s new medical group would not be a reality,” says Ken Wood, President and CEO of NHCH. “I would like to thank Bill for the tireless hours he has spent bringing the concept of a medical group into fruition at NHCH.” North Hawaii Medical Group, was formed and established in January 2011 as an affiliate organization of NHCH consisting of multi-specialty health care providers. NHMG’s goal is to work closely with community physicians to form an integrated system of care focused on serving the 35,000 people who live in the hospital’s service area. NHMG is comprised of more than 15 health care providers who offer a wide range of specialty care services including: Adult and Family Medicine, Hospitalist Care, Minimally Invasive and General Surgery, Native Hawaiian Health, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, Pulmonology and Women’s Health.

“It has been my privilege to serve as the Chief Medical Officer of the North Hawaii Medical Group,” says William Park. “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to assist with the establishment of NHCH’s North Hawaii Medical Group and have learned more than I have given in this process. I look forward to resuming my career as a general surgeon and continuing to serve on the hospital’s Board of Directors.”

NHCH is actively recruiting a full time Executive Director to lead their North Hawaii Medical Group. Ken Wood, President and CEO of NHCH, will serve as interim director until an appropriate candidate is found.

North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) Announces a New Breast Health Program

North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) announces a new Breast Health Program to offer patients access to the latest cutting-edge technology, a more comfortable experience, faster image analysis and on-going support, in coordination with Hawaii’s new mammography self-referral law, which takes effect on July 1st, 2012.

NHCH’s Imaging Department recently upgraded from analog technology to a state-of-the-art digital mammography machine called MAMMOMAT Inspiration by Siemens. “This new machine is absolutely the best mammography equipment available, and we are all really excited to offer this to our patients,” says Dr. George Ainge, Medical Director of Imaging at NHCH. The hospital’s new digital mammography machine provides technologists the ability to review the images in real time to determine image quality, providing more information for diagnosis. “Our new digital mammography machine also features intelligent breast compression technology, which offers patients a more comfortable exam experience with a shorter exam time and one-third less exposure to x-rays,” says Dr. Ainge.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in women. Early detection is key in treating breast cancer, and annual mammography can help detect breast tumors at their earliest, most treatable stages.

A new Hawai‘i state law will take effect July 1st, 2012, allowing women over the age of 40, for the first time ever, the right and ability to choose when, where and with whom they’d like to schedule their annual breast-screening exam, without a referral from their primary care physician. “The timing of Hawaii’s new self-referral state law and our new Breast Health Program could not be more perfect,” said Ken Wood, President and CEO of NHCH. We are proud to give women in our community the opportunity to engage in their own healthcare and not be hindered by an old referral process.” Prior to July 1, women in Hawaii had to get a referral from a physician or be given permission from their healthcare provider to schedule and receive an annual exam.

NHCH’s new Breast Health Program offers patients more than just upgraded state-of-the-art technology. “We revamped our breast health program by incorporating multiple upgrades and process improvements by creating a more patient centered model of care which supports patients throughout the entire mammography process from start to finish,” says Lorrie Mortensen, NHCH Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. Mammography results are now produced much more quickly, helping to decrease patient anxiety. “Mammography results that used to take days or weeks are now available in a fraction of that time,” says Mortensen.

In addition, should an abnormality be discovered during a patient’s screening mammography, NHCH radiologists are now able to expedite any additional testing and, if necessary, perform a minimally-invasive biopsy to establish a diagnosis. Previously, a patient needing additional testing was referred to Hilo or off island. “Our new Breast Health Program is designed to minimize anxiety by providing rapid and accurate diagnosis close to home,” says Dr. Ainge. When additional follow-up is required, NHCH’s new Breast Health Program will support patients by arranging referrals to Hawai‘i Island healthcare providers. “In addition, we now have the technology, processes and relationships in place which allow us to consult rapidly with women’s health specialists in Oahu, making quick and effective diagnosis and treatment a reality, despite our rural location,” says Mortensen.

New technologies at NHCH and Hawaii’s new state law are major, positive developments in the fight against breast cancer. To take advantage of Hawaii’s new self-referral process and NHCH’s new digital mammography technology, please call NHCH’s Imaging Department at 881-4882 to schedule your annual mammogram.

North Hawaii Community Hospital Announces Kaloa Robinson as New Director of Community Outreach

North Hawai‘i Community Hospital (NHCH) is pleased to announce that Kaloa Robinson has joined the NHCH ‘ohana as the hospital’s Director of Community Outreach. He will lead the organization’s outreach and community partnership efforts, as well as oversee communications programs.

Kaloa Robinson

“We are thrilled to have Kaloa on our team to help NHCH become a more active partner in the community,” said Kerry Howell, Vice President of Development, Marketing and Communications. “Kaloa’s deep experience in community relations and his personal commitment to community service is a tremendous contribution to NHCH, our stakeholders and the greater community.”

Kaloa has extensive experience in community relations with multiple outlets that include U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka as Legislative and Special Assistant in Washington, D.C.; John A. Burns School of Medicine’s faculty member; Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence as Recruitment Specialist; Hui Mālama Ola Na ‘Oiwi as Executive Director; and HMSA as Community Liaison. Kaloa is Vice Chairman of the Hawai‘i County Fire Commission, a member of the Akaka Falls Lions Club and a recent board member with Hawai‘i Island United Way. Kaloa graduated from Damien Memorial High School in Honolulu, HI, received his B.A. from Whittier College in Whittier, CA, and his M.A. in Issues Management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I remember visiting NHCH just after it opened 16 years ago and felt a great sense of healing and peace,” says Robinson. “I wholeheartedly feel privileged to be a part of the NHCH ‘ohana and look forward to strengthening and building  relations in our community . . . being here is maika’i loa,” says Robinson.

North Hawaii Community Hospital Answers Questions Following Controversial Decision to Serve Maternity Patients by Zip Codes

North Hawaii Community Hospital answered the following questions regarding their decision to only serve patients in certain zip codes for maternity care.

Q: What is North Hawaii Community Hospital’s mission?

A: NHCH’s mission is “to improve the health status of the people of North Hawai‘i by improving access to care and providing high quality services at a reasonable cost.”

Q: Why is NHCH limiting OB patients to those who live in their service area?

A: North Hawaii Community Hospital was designed to support a maximum of 550 births each year. Last year, 663 babies were delivered, and that number is on pace to exceed 700 births this year. Overcrowding in the Family Birthing Unit raises safety concerns and puts a strain on our ability to provide outstanding clinical care to every family delivering at NHCH.

Q: Are you closing the Waimea Women’s Center or laying off midwives?

A: No, we are not closing the Waimea Women’s Center or laying off midwives. We are committed to our maternal care program and to keeping midwifes as an integral part of our team.

Q: How did NHCH arrive at this decision?

A: Six weeks ago, NHCH formed an internal Maternal Care Work Group comprised of three doctors, one midwife, six nurses and three staff members to evaluate NHCH issues of overcrowding, safety, patient satisfaction and financial and resource implications. NHCH deliberated the Maternal Care Work Group recommendations along with additional input from the NHCH Community Advisory Board, NHCH Board of Directors and public input facilitated by the Waimea Community Association. Before the executive team arrived at the hospital’s decision to ease overcrowding by defining the NHCH maternal care service area, they determined that maternal care is available on Hawaii Island.

Q: What is NHCH’s defined service area?

A: NHCH’s service area is defined by the Hawaii County Emergency Medical Response Zone, which is the area north of a line roughly running from Laupahoehoe on the Hamakua Coast across the Saddle to Kukio in North Kona. Effective immediately, NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center will only offer maternal care services to women whose primary address is within the EMT area:

  • 96719—Hawi
  • 96727—Honokaa
  • 96738—Waikoloa
  • 96743—Kamuela
  • 96755—Kapaau
  • 96764—Laupahoehoe
  • 96774—Ookala
  • 96776—Paauilo
  • 96780—Papaaloa
  • And Kukio and Hualalai only.

Q: What are some examples of area excluded from NHCH’s service area?

A: East Side ‐ Ka’u, Volcano, Puna, Pāhoa, Hilo and Ninole are not included in NHCH’s service area. West Side ‐ North Kona (i.e., Kona Palisades Subdivision, Kaloko), Kealakekua and South Kona are not included in NHCH’s service area.

Q: Who is affected by this new service area definition?

A: The new policy affects new OB patients who live outside NHCH’s service area. An OB patient is someone receiving care for a pregnancy: prenatal, delivery or postnatal. Effective May 11th, those who live outside NHCH’s service area and become pregnant will be unable to receive prenatal care at Waimea Women’s Center or deliver at NHCH’s Family Birthing Unit. However, if a woman lives outside the NHCH service area and is currently an established pregnant patient of the Waimea Women’s Center, she can continue to receive prenatal care at Waimea Women’s’ Center and deliver at NHCH’s Family Birthing Unit.

Q: What if I live outside NHCH’s service area and have received care at Waimea Women’s Center for previous pregnancies, including delivering at NHCH’s Family Birthing Unit?

A: NHCH is unable to accept any OB patients, new or previous patients, from outside our service area effective May 11th, 2012.

Q: I live outside NHCH’s service area, where will I receive obstetric care?

A: Please refer to the below list of current providers in Hilo and Kona.

Physician/Provider Specialty Phone Office Location

Hilo Providers

  • Dr. Lucy Bucci Family Medicine 932‐4215 Hawai‘i Island Family Medicine 45 Mohouli St, Suite 101, Hilo
  • Dr. Julie Chee Family Medicine 932‐4215 Hawai‘i Island Family Medicine 45 Mohouli St, Suite 101, Hilo
  • Dr. Ian Ebesugawa OB/GYN 969‐2055 75 Puuhonu Place, Hilo
  • Dr. Randall Hirata OB/GYN 969‐7763 82 Puuhonu Place, Hilo
  • Dr. Eric Helms OB/GYN 934‐3280 Bay Clinic 73 Puuhonu Place, Suite 204, Hilo
  • Dr. Kristin McCoy Family Medicine 932‐4215 Hawai‘i Island Family Medicine 45 Mohouli St, Suite 101, Hilo
  • Dr. Karen Nakamoto OB/GYN 935‐7765 82 Puuhony Place, Hilo
  • Dr. Fred Nitta OB/GYN 961‐5922 670 Ponahawai Street, Suite 200, Hilo
  • Dr. Quye Tran OB/GYN 933‐2100 670 Ponahawai St, Suite 115, Hilo

Kona Providers

  • Dr. Christina Collins OB 331‐2300 75‐5905 Walua Rd, Suite 3, Kailua Kona, HI
  • Dr. Michelle Gilbert OB 334‐4400 Kaiser Permanente 75‐184 Hualalai Road, Kailua Kona
  • Dr. Deborah Lachance OB 334‐4400 Kaiser Permanente 75‐184 Hualalai Road, Kailua Kona
  • Dr. Santad Sira OB 329‐6447 75‐ 184 Hualalai Road, Ste 202, Kailua Kona

Q: Who is NOT affected by this restriction?

A: Anyone living within the defined service area is not affected. If a woman is currently pregnant, is already being seen at the Waimea Women’s Center for obstetric care, and lives outside NHCH’s service area, she can continue to be a patient and deliver at NHCH’s Family Birthing Unit.

Q: Can I receive GYN care at Waimea Women’s Center if I live outside your service area?

A: Yes, NHCH is accepting established and new gynecological patients who live outside our service area, since this service is not at capacity. The Waimea Women’s Center offers the following gynecological services: annual exams, pap smears, breast examinations, birth control counseling, menopause management, urinary incontinence management and more.

Q: I am a Kaiser patient who lives outside your service area. May I transfer to the Waimea Women’s Center in my third trimester and deliver at NHCH?

A: We are no longer accepting patients who live outside our service area. However, if you are a Kaiser patient who lives within our service area, you may transfer to Waimea Women’s Center and deliver at NHCH’s Family Birthing Unit.

Q: What is needed to verify my address?

A: You must present a driver’s license or legal photo ID with your current primary address. If your license or state ID does not have your current primary address, you must present a current utility bill that includes your name and address.

Q: When does this policy go into effect?

A: This new policy to address overcrowding in the Family Birthing Unit goes into effect May 11, 2012.

Q: Are other medical services at NHCH based on NHCH’s service area?

A: Other medical services at NHCH are not at capacity; therefore, NHCH will continue to accept patients who live outside the service area for all other medical service areas, which include: gynecological services in the Waimea Women’s Center, general surgery, orthopedics, emergency department, and so on.

Q: Will NHCH continue to use midwives?

A: NHCH is committed to maintaining Certified Nurse Midwives as an integral part of our maternal care program.

Q: Can you recommend a midwife as I am considering a home birth?

A: NHCH does not support home births. None of our midwives provide home birthing services.

Q: Is this decision to define service area access purely a financial one?

A: Overcrowding, patient safety and quality of care are NHCH’s primary reasons for establishing this new policy. Financial and resource implications are also factors. Overcrowding in the Family Birthing Unit has taken a financial toll with NHCH losing $7.2 million over the past three years.