WAIMEA, Hawaii: North Hawaii Community Hospital will only accept new maternal care patients who live within the hospital’s defined service area, starting now.
That’s the word from hospital officials in a media release issued on Friday.
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The overcrowded Waimea Women’s Center has been losing money, strained by the influx of mothers from all corners of the Big Island looking to give birth at the desired facility, which utilizes midwives and provides spacious, comfortable accommodations. The situation has come to a head in recent weeks, as the community became concerned that the hospital would enact drastic changes at the Women’s Center. This video by Baron Sekiya of Hawaii247.com (right) sums up the situation prior to this media release below:
North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) 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 in 2012. At present, 51% of the births at North Hawaii Community Hospital are from women who live outside of the hospital’s service area. To ease overcrowding and preserve patient safety, NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center will only accept new maternal care patients who live within the hospital’s defined service area starting today May 11, 2012.
“Unfortunately, overcrowding has become a very real and growing problem. NHCH cannot continue to serve the entire island with over half of the babies delivered coming from women who live outside our North Hawaii service area. Our commitment is to reduce overcrowding, preserve safety, improve patient satisfaction and maintain our NHCH program where midwives are an integral part of our maternal care program,” said Ken Wood, NHCH’s President and CEO.
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. The NHCH executive team deliberated the Maternal Care Work Group recommendations and weighed additional input from the hospital’s Board of Directors, NHCH’s Community Advisory Board, and public input facilitated by the Waimea Community Association.
By the end of this review process, overriding safety concerns prompted the executive team to take immediate action. “Before arriving at this tough decision to reduce NHCH volume to a safe and sustainable level by defining maternal care access by service area, we wanted to be sure that women from around the island would have access to maternal care services,” stated Wood. “We believe there is adequate maternal care capacity with OBs and Family Practice physicians who practice in the Hilo and Kona service areas,” stated Wood.
Defining the NHCH Maternal Care Service Area
NHCH’s overall hospital 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 today, May 11, 2012, NHCH will only offer maternal care services to women whose primary address is within
this EMT area.
Residence zip code will determine eligibility for maternal health care services at the NHCH Waimea Women’s Center.
The following towns and zip codes are included in NHCH’s maternal care service area:
This change impacts all new maternal care appointments, and exceptions will not be made. Women who are already active and registered in a course of maternal care treatment with Waimea Women’s Center can complete their care with NHCH.
North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) is a rural 33‐bed acute care hospital located in Kamuela, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Non‐profit, community owned and locally governed, the hospital opened in May 1996 and cares for Big Island residents and visitors. NHCH offers an extensive set of hospital services that are centered on patient needs, creating a healing experience for the whole person – mind, body and spirit.