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Susan Kang Sunderland

The Wonders of Pali Momi

Pali Momi has the second-busiest ER in the state, tending to more than 52,000 emergency cases a year. It touts being the only local facility that uses a team triage approach in the ER where patients are promptly evaluated by an emergency physician and prioritized according to severity.

The closing of Hawaii Medical Center West did impact Pali Momi’s ER volume, as it did other Oahu facilities. But Pali Momi adjusted as a natural extension of its growth.

“We were already busy before,” Chahanovich says.

Since HMC closed in December 2011, more than 25,000 emergency patients and 3,300 hospital inpatients annually are said to be seeking care outside of their community.

Response to the growing community on the west side is inherent in the long-range planning by Pali Momi’s board, executive staff and medical directors.

James Kakuda, MD, Pali Momi chief of staff, states, “Our best is a lot easier because of the seamless system we have in place and the global plane on which we have based our game plan.”

He points to Hawaii Pacific Health system’s adoption of electronic medical records in 2005, medical services integration that reduces cost, and the focus on quality care.

“Our guiding principle is alapono, the path of righteousness, doing the right thing for our patients,” he extols. “Every employee knows what our patient satisfaction score is and feels a responsibility toward it. It’s pervasive.”

That affects the performance of Pali Momi’s 1,041 employees, 398 medical staff and 120 volunteers.

If inspired leadership starts at the top, that role belongs to Chahanovich. She joined Hawaii Pacific Health in 2002 as director of respiratory and rehabilitation services for Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children and Pali Momi.

Chahanovich, 52, a South Carolina native, holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University (Utah), master’s from Western International University (Arizona), and fellowship from American Association of Respiratory Care.

Her pursuit of a medical career originated with being a caregiver for her late mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. As she monitored her mother’s daily care, Chahanovich was inspired by the compassion and dedication of health care professionals she encountered.

Her achievements as Pali Momi COO for the past eight years validate a well-chosen career path.

“Jen clearly leads with deep passion, and her can-do, hands-on philosophy is appreciated by physicians and staff. She is committed to providing the highest quality of care to patients and focuses on developing her team so that they are providing compassionate care to every patient, every time. Under her leadership, Pali Momi has grown into a regional hospital that is well-respected and highly valued in West Oahu,” says Ray Vara, president of Hawaii Pacific Health.

Patrons laud Pali Momi’s attention to detail, from daily newspaper deliveries to hospital patients by execs (managing by walking around), to well-chosen artwork on the walls and ceilings, as well as the welcome letter one receives with the COO’s personal cell number. Hello.

“It’s like the Ritz Carlton Pali Momi,” one observer offers.

The latest addition to the Aiea campus is the 8,000-square-foot Pali Momi Medical Pavilion, site of the former Inspiration furniture store. Home of Pali Momi’s Women’s Center, the modern facility accommodates regular checkups, advanced breast cancer care, ultrasound for expectant mothers, and advanced technology in digital mammography and breast MRI.

“It’s a proud achievement,” hails Chahanovich, who marks the pavilion as evidence of Pali Momi’s commitment to serving a growing community.

“Wellness is the focus,” she says. “This is designed for the new generation of health-conscious residents as well the aging boomers who are empowered with better knowledge and tools of personal care.”

The Women’s Center follows Pali Momi’s patient-centric design, including well-placed dressing rooms, spaces for a patient navigator and resource library, as well as chairs configured for full-figured expectant moms.

“We have Liz Chun to thank for that,” Chahanovich says, recalling Pali Momi’s pregnant director of philanthropy lamenting the difficulty of getting up from chairs.

It is a great reminder of what today’s health professionals must consider as they reinvent and transform care delivery. Greatly aided by technological and pharmaceutical advances, healing has become an art and science that will always be highly personal. Success is measured by making a difference one patient at a time.

You don’t have to be a wizard to figure that out. At Pali Momi, they evidently take that to heart.

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