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Commentary – Former Councilman Airlifted to Oahu, Cardiac Care Unit Wanted at Kona Hospital

Former Council member Dominic Yagong is the latest high profile community member to be airlifted for heart or stroke problems to Maui Memorial or Queen’s on Oahu. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists.

Yagong posted the following on his Facebook page:
“Medivac to Queens hospital tomorrow morning. Spending the night in Waimea ER after experiencing severe chest pains at Basketball game in Honokaa. Sorry girls for missing announcing your game. I’ll be fine,,,,got my lucky Green Bay cap with me! Thanks Kahea for calling EMT. No worries…thumbs up!”

THE PROBLEM: There is a 2- hour window when patients need to be treated in order to expect a full recovery. Think about where you live on the Big Island. From my home it would take 45 minutes to get to Kona Community Hospital Emergency Room, then the time to be diagnosed and then get the helicopter and then the 45 minute + time to Oahu, getting checked in and a cardiologist hopefully is at the hospital and you need to be seen, an Operating Room hopefully is available. Get the picture? Other important island residents to be airlifted are Mayor Kim, Council Chair Pete Hoffmann and OHA Representative Bob Lindsey.

I talked to an architect who specializes in building hospitals and a medical planner at NBBJ Architects. There is currently no facility or any cardiologists to staff a dedicated cardiac care unit for West Hawaii. We agreed that Kona Community Hospital (KCH) was the best location for a Cardiac Care unit. Kona Community Hospital has one cardiologist, Dr. Michael Dang who travels from Honolulu. Dr. Larry Derbes is an interventional cardiologist in private practice in Kona, who agrees that a Catheterization Lab to do stents and ablations and to treat strokes, would save lives and result in better outcomes and quality of life for cardiac patients. He is eager to help. I talked to Jay Kreuzer, is the CEO of KCH, and has also been a cardiac patient. He pointed out that staffing the Catheterization Lab is the biggest challenge because we lose doctors, because the Medicare reimbursement rate of only 93% of the actual cost is compounded by Hawaii Medical Services Association (Hawaii’s biggest healthcare insurer), which compensates at only 110% of the Medicare Reimbursement. He told me that there is an airlift almost every day from KCH to either Queens in Honolulu or Maui Memorial and they are usually for heart or stroke patients.
I also met with Dr. Frank Sayre, Chair of the Board for the West Hawaii Regional Hospital Board of Directors, which oversees Kona Community Hospital and the North Kohala Community Hospital. He agreed with Jay Kreuzer. He told me that he had discussed setting up a “funded chair” for specialists (similar to academic chairs) as a stipend to keep doctors on the island.
SOLUTIONS:
1. A HYBRID CATHETERIZATION LAB/ OPERATING ROOM FOR KONA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL was recommended by architect and planner. The recent flooding of the Operating Room at KCH presents an opportunity to remodel the Operating Room and accommodate Cath Lab equipment.
2. STAFFING: An annuity with the Hawaii Community Foundation or the Kona Community Hospital Foundation to generate a yearly stipend for two cardiologists to establish a “chair position.
Please get in touch with your State Representatives and State Senators to include these items as allocation in their Budget Legislation for the coming year.
There has been some discussion about building a new hospital sometime, but even if that were started tomorrow, it would still take about 6 years to be built, with land acquisition, EIS, plans, hiring a contractor and building. We need a Cardiac Care unit NOW to save our friends and family and allow heart attack and stroke patients to recover fully and at home on our island. Please ask your Hawaii State Senator and Council members to include a Cardiac Care unit in the state budget. It would be $2 million to remodel the ER at Kona Community Hospital and money for a stipend for two cardiologists. Healthy people are happy people.

For more information go to this site: https://debbiehecht.com/2016/06/21/a-cardiac-care-unit-for-the-big-island-of-hawaii/

Debbie Hecht
Kailua-Kona

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