North Hawaii Community Hospital CEO Ken Wood announced he has reached a decision about the hospital’s maternal care program. 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 effective immediately.
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.
“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 Wood.
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 considered 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 physicianswho practice in the Hilo and Kona service areas,” stated Wood.
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.
NHCH will only offer maternal care services to women whose primary address is within this EMT area. The residence zip codes included in North Hawaii Community Hospital’s service area include 96719 Hawi . 96764 Laupahoehoe. 96727 Honokaa. 96774 Ookala, 96738 Waikoloa, 96776 Paauilo, 96743 Kamuela, 96780 Papaaloa, 96755 Kapaau, and the communities of Kukio and Hualalai.
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.
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