Categorized | Health

Sayre appointed to HHSC West Hawaii board


The HHSC West Hawaii Region board of directors elected Frank Sayre, DDS as its new chairman.

The West Hawaii Region is comprised of Kona Community Hospital and Kohala Hospital.

Sayre, who joined the West Hawaii Region board in July 2014, is a retired dentist. He was previously a member of the KCH surgical staff as well as HHSC’s Management Advisory Committee for West Hawaii.

Sayre has a long history community commitment and is a volunteer board member on the Daniel Sayre Memorial Foundation. Peoples Advocacy for Trails Hawaii (PATH) and the Puu Waa Waa Advisory Council.

The West Hawaii Region board expressed its gratitude to Vice Chair, Renee Inaba, who acted as Interim Chair following the death of chair, Bill Cliff earlier in January.


KCH, Kohala Hospital Mourn Death of Board Chairman

Kona Community Hospital and the HHSC West Hawaii Region regretfully announced its Board Chairman, William “Bill” Cliff, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, Jan. 26 while vacationing with family.

He was 75 years old.

“We’re profoundly saddened by the news of Bill’s death,” said Jay Kreuzer, Regional CEO of Kona Community Hospital and Kohala Hospital. “As chairman of the board of the West Hawaii Region, Bill was a thoughtful leader who was deeply committed to improving health care services for the West Hawaii community. He will be greatly missed.”

Bill joined the West Hawaii Region board of directors in 2010 and became board chairman in July, 2014.

During his tenure, he played a key role on a number of committees including Strategic Planning for the West Hawaii Region. Inspired by the Kona Community Hospital mission statement, Bill was passionate about maintaining focus on the future of quality health care in West Hawaii.

“Bill was an extraordinary man who enriched the lives of those around him,” Kreuzer said. “He will be remembered warmly as a mentor, a tireless public servant and a dear friend. Our deepest sympathies are with his partner, Gabriella, and their ohana.”


KCH Bids Aloha to Dr. James Lambeth

Kona Community Hospital has bid farewell to radiation oncologist, Dr. James Lambeth as he is retiring from Hawaii Island Radiation Oncology, Ltd. and the KCH Radiation Oncology Clinic.

The hospital’s radiation oncology staff and management showered Dr. Lambeth and his wife, Phoebe, with leis and warm aloha as they shared lunch in celebration of his years of service to the West Hawaii community.

Dr. Lambeth has been serving patients on Hawaii Island for 40 years. He was instrumental in bringing much needed radiation oncology services to the Big Island.

The on-island radiation services offered patients treatment close to home versus traveling to Honolulu for care.

Lambeth spearheaded the building of the Radiation Oncology Clinic (ROC) at Kona Community Hospital. The first patient was treated at the KCH Radiation Oncology Clinic on May 5, 2005.

Since its opening, Dr. Lambeth has commuted from Hilo to the ROC Kealakekua as often as four times per week to provide treatment to radiation oncology patients at KCH.

“We feel such gratitude to Dr. Lambeth for his passionate service to patients in Kona and Hilo for so many years,” said Sanoe Kauhane, KCH Cancer Center Manager.

Beginning Feb. 1, The Queen’s Health System will be providing radiation oncology physician coverage daily to the KCH radiation Oncology Clinic.


KCH Receives Prestigious International Award

Kona Community Hospital celebrated having received international recognition as a designated Baby-Friendly Birth Facility.

Kona Community Hospital is one of only three Hawaii hospitals to have received this designation.

This prestigious recognition was awarded to KCH by Baby-Friendly USA, Inc; the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (“BFHI”).

The BFHI is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The goal of BFHI is to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding and immediate skin-to-skin bonding of newborn infants.

“We’re thrilled to receive this designation,” said Sally Robertson, Women’s Services Nurse Manager. “These baby-friendly best practices at KCH can impact the health of the entire community by providing new mothers with the proper education and tools to support successful breastfeeding and improve health outcomes for newborns.”

“This recognition is an honor for our Women’s Services staff as well as affiliated agencies and doctors,” said Pat Kalua, Chief Nurse Executive at KCH. “It wasn’t an easy process, but these committed clinicians dedicated themselves to meeting the challenges in order to bring the best level of care to newborns in our community.”

The “Baby-Friendly” designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed.

The award is maintained by continuing to practice the Ten Steps as demonstrated by quality processes.

Those steps include:

* Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

* Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.

* Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

* Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

* Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.

* Give infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

* Practice rooming-in–allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.

* Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

* Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

Globally, there are more than 20,000 designated Baby-Friendly hospitals and birth centers worldwide. Currently there are 329 active Baby-Friendly birth facilities in the United States.


KCH Launches Tele-Mental Health Program

Kona Community Hospital recently launched a hospital-based, state-of-the-art tele-mental health program to accommodate patients requiring the services of a psychiatrist.

The hospital is partnering with Dignity Health Telemedicine and In-Touch Health to bring this innovative service to KCH patients. The tele-mental health program offers real-time communications for psychiatric consultations and care via two RP-Lite Remote Presence Systems robots.

Each robot enables psychiatrists to be present at the bedside in order to interact with patients 24/7 through videoconferencing technology.

Although the technology is similar to Skype or FaceTime, the robot connection is FDA approved and HIPPA compliant.

“We believe our patients should have access to timely, high quality mental health care,” said Pat Kalua, RN, KCH Chief Nurse Executive.

However, there is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists. As a result, KCH often has difficulty finding coverage in this area of specialty. Thanks to the tele-mental health program, a patient and a psychiatrist can now be connected within 20 minutes of an initial call for service.

The mental health services are provided by licensed, board certified psychiatrists for consultations and care of inpatients in KCH’s acute care units, such as the Medical Surgical and Intensive Care units.

Further, the tele-psychiatrists are able to co-manage care with a patient’s hospitalist and care team.
KCH plans to expand the tele-mental health program into its emergency department soon, enhancing that department’s present services.

“This patient-centered service will greatly enhance mental health services at Kona Community Hospital,” said Kalua. “This will improve patient care and improve the patient encounter.”

The tele-mental health program does not provide services to the inpatient Kalani Ola Behavioral Health Unit at KCH.

Mental health care in that unit is provided by psychiatrists from the Adult Mental Health Division of the State of Hawaii, Department of Health.


KCH Announces Reduction in Force and Service Closure

Kona Community Hospital leadership informed employees they will began implementing a reduction in force (RIF) in August.

At least 34 positions are scheduled to be eliminated facility-wide. In addition, the hospital will be closing its 18-bed skilled nursing service.

“It is with deep regret that we must make these decisions,” said Jay Kreuzer, West Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC). “Over the past several years, the entire hospital staff has pulled together to help address our financial challenges. Our hospital departments are running efficiently, and there is no excess or waste to be trimmed. Sadly, these efforts do not offset our FY 2016 deficit due to lack of state funding.”

The planned RIF and service closure are part of a contingency plan to fill a $6 million budget shortfall created in part by increased costs of collective bargaining and retiree health benefits, which in the past years were paid by the State.

The State opted not to fund these expenses in 2015.

“We are grateful for state support,” said Kreuzer. “Although the state budget is also tight, with these new expenses, the general fund assistance we receive is not enough to continue our current level of operations.”

The reductions at KCH are part of a HHSC corporate-wide RIF and service reduction intended to address a $50 million projected deficit for the entire HHSC system for fiscal year 2016.

“Many factors have contributed to this very difficult decision,” said Kreuzer.

In order to offset rising expenses, KCH has already reduced staff through retirement and resignation. The hospital also successfully concluded a year-long project that implemented $9 million in cost savings initiatives.

However, in an effort to further reduce expenses, hospital leaders developed financial contingency plan including the reduction in force and closure of the skilled nursing unit. The skilled nursing beds are not being de-licensed, and could potentially be reopened at some time in the future.

Although the18-bed skilled nursing unit has an average daily census of six patients, the cost to operate it remains constant. Additionally, skilled nursing services can reasonably be provided by other facilities within the region.

“We are profoundly aware that the lives of these employees are being impacted,” said Kreuzer. “They have been valued members of our work family. These are very difficult times for our hospital.”

“At Kona Community Hospital, we have learned to adapt when change happens,” Kreuzer said. “Our mission has always been to provide accessible, comprehensive healthcare to our community. We will continue to do that during this tough transition.”

HHSC Corporate and KCH Human Resources personnel are prepared to assist affected employees through the 90-day RIF process. Employees whose positions have been eliminated will have the option to be placed in a budgeted vacant position within their bargaining units.

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