Healing Hands

After a long drought, Kapolei now has a wealth of health options.

A party atmosphere permeated the halls of Pali Momi Medical Center (PMMC) on May 20, 2014—the entire staff gathered and mingled with each other over meals provided by the medical center. Smiles and laughter, highlighted by a sense of accomplishment were everywhere.

The celebration was a thank-you from PMMC to its staff for 875 days of commitment to the health and well being of the people of Central and West O‘ahu.

PALI MOMI helped fill the void by expanding services in any way it was necessary to positively impact the needs of our community,” says PMMC CEO Jen H. Chahanovich. “Everyone who works here contributed, and I can’t say enough about our personal commitment to put patients first.”

During the 875 days that Pali Momi served as the primary medical facility for the area, the state-of-the-art medical facility had increased hospital beds, converted physicians’ lounges and dining room into treatment areas for the emergency department, implemented free valet parking for emergency patients, built a Transitional Care Unit (TCU) to open up more bed space and created a greeter program in the emergency department.

A similarly celebratory mood prevailed at the grand opening of Queens Medical center West Oahu, two days earlier. The official opening day for the highly anticipated QMC West couldn’t have come too soon for the community, least of all Susan Murray, COO, The Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu. “The transition took almost one-and-a-half years, which is very fast for a project of this magnitude,” she says. “I was the first employee hired for West, and my goals were to manage the project, build the leadership team and medical staff and reach out as a new neighbor to the community. The partnership with the medical staff and operational leadership were crucial to our successful opening. For all of us, the sense of ownership and belonging on behalf of Queen’s West is strong; we are here to take care of our West community together.”

The new facility now offers much-needed health services in Kapolei such as: an emergency department, imaging (mammography, dexa scan, ultrasound, cardiac echo, routine x-ray, fluoroscopy, CT, MRI and nuclear medicine), a physician center (cardiologist, gastroenterologist, general surgeons, in- and out-patient surgery, endoscopy, inpatient ICU, medical/surgical and telemetry capabilities.

Everyone anticipated a strong demand, and it was so strong that Queen’s had to hold an additional job fair. Two thousand people showed up. “It was our largest turn out to date,” says Murray. “We were very pleased with the amount of qualified applicants who showed up for the positions we needed.”

In all, QMC West Oahu has more than 550 people working at the facility. And, being part of the community you work in means a lot.

“Practicing medicine in my home community is very special to me,” says Dr. Irminne Van Dyken, who practices at QMC West Oahu. “I feel like I am taking care of people that are close to my heart, my own ‘ohana. The healthier I can get my patients, the healthier my community.”

Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu is only just getting started. “The mission of serving Nati ve Hawaiians and all the people of Hawai‘i was the most important reason our CEO Art Ushijima and our Board of Trustees decided to open Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu,” Murray explains. “The need for high-quality health care is great for this community, which is the fastest-growing region in Hawai‘i. A large percentage of Native Hawaiians living on O‘ahu call West O‘ahu their home.”

Murray stresses that the medical center is developing a master plan that focuses on the specific needs for the West O‘ahu community. “Like most of our staff, I live on the West Side and want nothing but the best for our community.”

For Dr. Van Dyken, it’s the relief in the eyes of her patients that make all the difference. “Many of my patients have told me they are very grateful they can receive quality care so close to home,” she says.

She points to the specific demographics of the area as a way to determine what needs will be, or should be addressed in the future. “The average age is a little younger out here, and because or this, many patients will be needing specific care tailored toward them,” she explains. Breast cancer screening and diabetes care are two such needs.

In the meantime, Pali Momi had been the lifeline for Central and West Oahu, and has been serving the community for the past 25 years. In addition to its 24/7 emergency care, Pali Momi also offers West O‘ahu’s only Cardiac Cath Lab, spa-like Women’s Center, a fully accredited Bariatric Surgery Program and the da Vinci robot-aided surgical system designed to provide with patients with less pain and quicker recoveries from surgery.

To celebrate its anniversary, Pali Momi plans to reward their guests and employees (Pali Momi boasts 1,300 employees, 70 percent of whom call Central and West O‘ahu home) with 1989 prices for lunch during their birthday week. “We will also be revealing ‘25th touches,’ special upgrades made to our facility in celebration of this milestone,” says Chahanovich. The medical facility will also be connecting with some of the community members who first petitioned for the Pali Momi Medical Center’s establishment, to show their appreciation for their dedication to the facility.

“The founding physician of Pali Momi, Dr. Joseph Nishimoto, remains a close friend of mine along with many of our staff,” says Chahanovich. “It is always humbling when he says that we continue to live up to and exceed the vision set for this hospital 25 years ago.”

It’s a sense of pride that is evident in all the staff. Patient rep Jay Nahial, who’s been with Pali Momi for a little over a year, appreciates the unique opportunity he has to make a patient’s day. “You need to provide great service … they’re vulnerable, they’re hurt—we have to provide the best possible outcome [for them],” he explains.

Patient rep Marie Tolentino, an 11-year employee agrees. “It’s always patients first,” she says. “I love working here. It’s a good place to work at; it’s one big happy family.”

Pali Momi Medical Center www.palimomi.org (808) 486-6000

Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu www.queensmedicalcenter.org (808) 691-3000