Categorized | Featured, Health

New beds, helicopter and a generous offer for Kona Community Hospital

Kona Community Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer talks about future plans for the hospital. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Kona Community Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer talks about future plans for the hospital. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Kona Community Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer

Kona Community Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer

Kona Community Hospital officials have a lot to talk about this week.

Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer and senior staff members had a whole list of good news at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Kreuzer, who has been CEO for less than two years, said he was pleased to announce the hospital ended the fiscal year June 30 with a positive bottom line. With $1.6 million in net revenue, KCH was in the black for the first time since 1997.

Chief Financial Officer Dean Herzog credited better control of costs and increasing revenues, as well as opening a cardiology clinic and offering more physicians and specialists.

“Last year, we were incredibly busy,” he said. “Usually, our slow season is in the summer, but we didn’t have a slow season.”

Officials are reinvesting the funds in the hospital. For example, 30 new patient beds are on the way at a cost of $300,000.

Hawaii Life Flight helicopter

Also, a new contract with Hawaii Life Flight dedicates a medically equipped helicopter to KCH. It will be stationed at Kona International Airport, but will be able to pick up stroke and heart attack patients at the hospital and transport them directly to Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The Maui facility is partnering with KCH to treat heart and vascular patients.

Beginning next month, the transit time between KCH and Maui will be cut from four hours to one hour. Currently, patients are transported via ambulance to the airport for a plane ride to Maui, where another ambulance takes them to the medical center.

Cutting three hours off the transit time will save lives, officials said, and is especially welcome as the Big Island has the state’s highest rates of death from coronary disease.

The first emergency helicopter is set to arrive next month, Kreuzer said, and a second, larger helicopter is expected in December. The larger copter can fly to Oahu.

Replacement hospital in North Kona

Also on the horizon is a replacement hospital in North Kona. The current 94-bed facility in Kealakekua is aging and outdated, Kreuzer said.

Developer Stanford Carr has offered to donate 40 acres to Hawaii Health Systems Corporation – the public benefit corporation that oversees KCH and five other medical facilities on the Big Island.

However, Kreuzer said, HHSC has not yet accepted the offer as it is not clear parcel at the intersection of Hina Lani Street and Ane Keohokalole Highway will be the preferred site.

Talk of the new facility is still in the very early stages, he said, with a goal of completion in eight to 10 years.

Officials will seek input from the medical and business communities, as well as the public, before making any decisions. Honolulu-based consultant Peter Adler, principal consultant for Honolulu-based Accord 3.0, is on board to help with the preliminary planning and information gathering.

Among the topics still to be discussed by HHSC, the hospital board of directors, staff and residents: location, what kind of services should or should not be offered and what to do with the current facility.

Adler said his job is to find “the highest hopes and greatest fears” of the community about the project.

Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room physician and long-time champion of health care issues, said he supports the plan for a new hospital.

“It’s the right time and it’s the right place. It makes sense,” he said. “I’ll do everything I can to convince my colleagues in the state Senate to support and fund the planning and design phase.”

He pointed out that the Stanford Carr property is fairly close to the West Hawaii Civic Center, the under-construction Hawaii Community College Palamanui and the site for the new Judiciary Complex.

“So the hospital would be the fourth leg of that table,” he said, adding that KCH and Palamanui could partner to train health care professionals.

Green said it’s too early to quote an exact price tag, but he expects it will cost upwards of $300 million. While the state likely will foot much of the bill, Green said he expects to reach out to the philanthropic community.

As for the current hospital, Green said he would like to see it continue to offer emergency room services to the South Kona community and perhaps evolve into a long-term care facility.

New physicians

The hospital has added 16 doctors to its roster this year, Kreuzer said.

The Big Island has been critically short of doctors and specialists for several years, but Kreuzer and Green are hopeful the hospital has turned a corner. With increased revenues, KCH can continue to upgrade equipment, expand services and offer a more attractive package when recruiting doctors.

The list of new physicians available to KCH patients includes:

* Jonathan Allen – cardiovascular disease
* Bruce Brown – anesthesiology
* Carmen Brown – OB/gyn
* Graham Cormack – hospitalist
* Michael Dang – cardiothoracic surgery
* Philip Foti – pulmonary medicine
* Linda Gremer – radiation oncology
* Jeffrey Gerton – emergency medicine
* Paul Hayward – hospitalist
* Kimberly Madsen – ophthalmology
* Margaret Meyer – orthopedics
* James Nelson III – urology
* Andrew Rosenblum – cardiovascular disease
* Douglas Sides – radiology
* Stefan Sinco – orthopedics
* Nathan Tomita – general surgery
* Simong Youmans – emergency medicine

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