Queen’s Goes West
It is a leader in cardiology, oncology, neuroscience, orthopedics, critical care, genetics, obstetrics, imaging and research.
“Queen’s-West Oahu is an extension of that core competence,” Murray says. “The same quality and seamless service will be available for patients on the West side, without the stress and strain of a highway commute.”
West Oahu once had its own hospital and ER, but it's been two and a half years since it closed. That changes May 20 when the same facility re-opens after $70 million in new expenditures as The Queen's Medical Center-West Oahu. Pictured (left to right) are urologist Dr. David Wei, anesthesiologist Dr. Lilian Kanai, COO Susan Murray, cardiologist Dr. Kahealani Rivera and radiologist Dr. Donald Blair
“Time is critical in responding to emergencies and treating patients with chronic conditions,” she says. “Access to care is the basic tenet.”
No doubt Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV would look favorably on the outreach to West Oahu, where a high percentage of Native Hawaiians reside.
Getting to know the community and its health care needs has been a major focus of Murray’s first year as COO. The Ko Olina resident spent many hours meeting with groups such as Rotary Club, FilCom Center, neighborhood boards and business organizations.
She also met with physicians on the Leeward side to gain more insight.
Were there any surprises? It was enlightening to say the least, according to the San Diego native, who moved to Hawaii at a young age and is married to a retired cardiothoracic surgeon.
“The population diversity, prevailing health concerns of segments such as native Hawaiians and Filipinos, and cultural considerations could not be ignored,” Murray says.
“We are responding to immediate needs, such as high incidence of diabetes among Native Hawaiians and inadequate health screenings among Filipinos, but will evolve as more community needs become evident.
“Part of the equation is attracting more physicians to live and work in this community,” she adds. “It is changing, but there clearly is a need for more primary care physicians as well as specialists in obstetrics, gynecology and pediatrics.
“As more schools and executive homes are built in West Oahu, we are likely to see professional relocations here,” she predicts.
West Oahu Economic Development Association forecasts population growth to more than 218,500 by 2016, with the number of working-age individuals at nearly 135,000.
“The newer physicians know that this is where the patients are,” Murray says.
Thanks to new facilities and state-of-the-art equipment, including the latest in imaging and surgical tools, there will be a pent-up demand for use by physicians, surgeons and medical technicians.
Queen’s-West will open with 70 beds on the third and fourth floors. Licensed capacity is 135 beds.
Surgical suites on the second floor include four operating rooms for general and outpatient procedures. An endoscopy suite has two rooms for gastrointestinal (colonoscopy) procedures.
The emergency department on the first floor is three times as large as the previous one, with 23 spacious new bays. To test systems and procedures, employees have been put to rigorous “day in the life” trials.
“We’re going to probably be over prepared because we do not want to disappoint the community,” Murray has told the media.
Visitors will be drawn to the bright, spacious dining room on the fifth floor, open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. The “penthouse” has a panoramic view of Pearl Harbor and West Oahu. Café Aloha coffee and snack shop on the first floor will be open 24 hours.
Throughout the new medical center is an inviting, comfortable and soothing décor that defies the outmoded notion of hospitals as sterile, intimidating environments.
“A lot of our focus is on how to reduce the anxiety of patients,” Murray points out.
It’s an important point, considering the transformation the entire health care industry is experiencing.
Hospitals make a substantial imprint on local economies. In many communities, including Hawaii, hospitals represent one of the largest employers and economic drivers.
Despite a history of strength and stature, the hospital institution is said to be in the midst of massive and disruptive change. One national expert predicts that by 2020 one in three hospitals will close or reorganize into an entirely different type of health care service provider.
Several forces, including rising costs and health care reform, are driving the shift.
The courage of Queen’s Health System to invest millions and establish a satellite operation in this climate is noteworthy. It could only come from an unabashed devotion to the vision and mission of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, who were concerned about the well-being of their subjects.
A century-and-a-half later, in the principality of West Oahu on the May 20 birthday of their son, Prince Albert, triumph will reign at 91-2141 Fort Weaver Road. And cheers will be heard throughout the kingdom.