Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, August 02, 2009
Hawaii Hospitals: Not Quite Catching Up To Africa
By Andrew Walden @ 7:06 PM :: 20735 Views :: Hawaii County , Maui County, Health Care

(Originally published July, 2007, this article outlines the effect of government-controlled health care on Hawaii.  Since Hawaii's system has been pointed to as a model for socialized health care, other Americans may be interested to learn the fate which awaits them.)

By Andrew Walden

In the wake of a heated fight over construction of a privately funded hospital on Maui, the Hawaii Health Services Corporation (HHSC) is moving to improve its facilities by agreeing to provide Hawaii patients with equipment available in some African hospitals.

The June 29, Pacific Business News trumpets, “Hilo Medical Center, East Hawaii’s only acute-care hospital, will establish first first-ever cardiac unit …. Currently only two cardiologists serve Hilo’s population of 41,000 and neither can perform angiograms to detect blocked or damaged arteries on the Big Island because of lack of equipment and facilities.”

This step is possible because the normally sluggish state Health Planning and Development Agency in only six weeks gave their approval to Hilo Medical Center’s “Certificate of Need” (CON) application filed May 15.

This expansion of services will save lives and improve the Big Island’s ability to attract and keep cardiologists. Notably, the facility as currently planned will provide only diagnostic catheterization. No therapeutic catheterization will be available without a further CON request. This fits the HHSC’s plan to fly Big Island patients (and their dollars) away from first class Oahu hospitals to HHSC’s decaying Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC).

Jan Shields, RN, of the Association for Improved Healthcare on Maui writes:

“Hawaii Health Systems Corporation is $68 million in the red. With all of these financial woes, Maui Memorial has hired a cardiac surgeon. They will pay him $800,000 per year, twice the going rate of what a cardiac surgeon normally makes. He is only two years out of his fellowship, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience. He will not do vascular surgery -- just cardiac. There will not be a cardiac surgery program at Maui Memorial for three to five years. So he’ll work as a consultant. Even after the unit is possibly built, only two of the nine cardiologists will use it. Lots of money is being spent to build a cardiac center when the rest of the hospital is circling the drain.”

When completed, MMMC’s cardiac canter may be able to perform open-heart surgery. Nairobi Hospital performed its first open-heart surgery in 1993.

Currently Hilo-based cardiologists have to send patients to Oahu for diagnosis. According to HMC’s CON application, an estimated 812 Big Island patients go to O`ahu for diagnostic catheterization every year. Statistical models predict a current need for about 1600 such procedures annually on the Big Island. HMC’s plan is to provide about 250 procedures in the first year of operation, ramping up to 500 procedures in the second year.

If doctors continue to send their patients to Oahu for diagnosis, HHSC wouldn't be able to route patients to Maui Memorial. By building a "diagnostic cardiac catheterization services center" in Hilo, they can diagnose patients and send as many to MMMC as possible. Logically this HHSC money-making scheme means a similar facility should soon be planned and quickly approved for Kona Community Hospital.

How widely available is cardiac catheterization?  The June 22, 2007, Coastweek Kenya reports, “His Excellency, Mr. Walter Lindner, the German Ambassador, cut a ribbon and unveiled a plaque to formally open the new 89 million shilling Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory (Cathlab) at the Nairobi Hospital.”

Dr. Cleopa Mailu, the Chief Executive Officer at The Nairobi Hospital, explained, "Using the Cathlab we carry out diagnostic studies including coronary and angiography, which is the assessment of blood vessels that supply critical organs.”

Not only does Nairobi, Kenya have a hospital providing diagnosis, but also will provide therapeutic cardiac catheterization as well. Dr. Mailu continues: “The visualization of narrowings, or blockages of the vessels is of particular interest. Our new equipment is in frequent use for the routine implantation of heart pacemakers and stents in patients with narrowed or blocked arteries."

In Hilo, PBN quotes a HMC spokesperson explaining, “We need to make sure, with state funds, we do it right. We’re not going to hit it out of the ballpark. We need to start small and build it up, not necessarily to doing open-heart surgery, but identify where or how far we can go piece by piece.”

Cardiac catheterizations have been performed in Honolulu since 1954. The first open heart surgery in Hawaii was performed in 1959 at Queens Hospital in Honolulu. Ironically the first patient was a Hilo woman. Pacific Business News unwittingly explains why Hilo is behind Nairobi in medical facilities:

“Because the (Hilo) Hospital is part of the state’s 13-member public hospital network, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp (HHSC), movement on any project is subject to approval and funding from the Legislature.”

Dr Mailu continues: “Our facility is the leading Cathlab in the region and The Nairobi Hospital receives patients from other African countries including the Congo, Chad, Eritrea, Morocco and Zambia and has the potential to support a medical tourism sector for Kenya.”

Hilo Medical Center is actually one of the better hospitals in the HHSC system. How under-funded are HHSC’s more rural hospitals? The Star-Bulletin Feb. 24, 2007 reports that “Red Hat” Kau Community Hospital auxiliary volunteers held bake sales in front of the Hilo Wal-Mart raising over $29,000 to buy Kau Hospital its first two cardiac monitors. The May, 2007 Ka`u Calendar explains:

“It’s hard to get really frequent vital signs ... . Without the monitors, nurses would have to (keep track of pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and temperature) by hand.”

Ka`u Hospital employs HD6 Rep. Josh Green MD (D), who calls Maui’s privately funded Malulani Hospital proposal “substandard” while posing as an advocate of medical reform. Now Green is running for state Senate in District 3.

In contrast, Rwanda’s King Faisal Hospital reports that on June 29, 2007, they acquired new cardiac monitors. For another Rwanda hospital, Denver Colorado Rotary Club members pitched in to supply cardiac monitors and other equipment in 2005.

One of the Ka`u Red Hat volunteers told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

“The hospital does not have several of those individual instruments. She said a doctor commented that ‘it's like practicing bush medicine here.’"

Now thanks to the volunteers’ efforts Ka`u has some of what Rwanda has.

And thanks to the pressure created by Maui’s citizens’ attempts to free themselves from the HHSC/MMMC death grip, Hilo will soon have some of what Nairobi, Kenya has.


Big Island patients headed for Maui Memorial: http://www.hawaiireporter.com/story.aspx?49a22754-064d-4991-8e67-5f555547e3a6

Open Heart surgery in Hawaii: http://hml.org/hmj/articles/hmj54794.pdf

Coastweek Kenya article:

Rwanda: http://www.thevalleyalmanac.com/article.php?id=60&PHPSESSID=cf351ce0cb209d3076a431b1f9167797

On June 29, 2007 Kigali, Rwanda’s King Faisal Hospital acquired new cardiac monitors. http://www.kfh.rw/news.html

Ka`u Calendar: http://www.pahala-hawaii.com/cgi-bin/web_store.cgi?page=5_07page23.html&cart_id


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute


Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii


DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute


Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group


Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii



National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today


Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii



Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii


SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu


West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii