New Waimea ER Awes Community

January 25, 2020, 5:26 PM HST (Updated January 25, 2020, 5:27 PM)
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The Waimea community walks through the new ER at Queen’s North Hawai’i Community Hospital on Saturday. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)

Two young girls stood amazed as Ruby Adams increased the heart rate on a training mannequin lying in a trauma room bed at Waimea’s newly constructed emergency room.

Adams, a nurse and educator, showed Haley, 6, and Jillian, 3, where to find the pulse on the patient. When they provided oxygen, they saw its chest move up and down.

Of all the rooms in Queen’s North Hawai‘i Community Hospital‘s new ER, Adams thinks the two trauma rooms are the best, not only for its technology, but for the teaching and training opportunities they provide.

On Saturday, the community was invited to an open house of the ER. The facility is 15 years in the making, drawing on support from the community, which helped raise $18 million for the $25 million project. people walked freely around the horse-shoe layout, talking to staff about the new facility, what it has to offer and other information related to health care.

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Trauma rooms are equipped with a boom that encompasses a cardiac monitor, blood pressure, oxygen and other essential life-saving equipment.

“Everything that used to be on the wall can be brought to the patient,” Adams said as she demonstrated the mobility of the boom.

All the rooms are private, with the the latest technology installed. The nurses also got a high-tech call system. Overall, Adams said, the facility is better equipped to provide better care.

While upgraded, the ER celebrated its paniolo heritage with artwork of horses, green pastures and cattle.

The Waimea community walks through the new ER at Queen’s North Hawai’i Community Hospital on Saturday. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)

Board member of North Hawai‘i Community Hospital Bob Momsen said it was in 2012 that the need for a new ER had already been identified by hospital staff and community members. It wasn’t until the hospital joined Queen’s Health Systems in 2014 that things started moving along to make this South Kohala need a reality.

“It’s remarkable the level of broad support the hospital has gotten from the community,” Momsen said.

The ER is one of the largest community-funded projects Queen’s has done. Cindy Kamikawa, president of Queen’s North Hawai‘i Community Hospital, said it’s part of the Waimea community’s history to support the hospital. They came out to help fund the original hospital in 1996.

“We’re continuing that legacy and ensuring we have the best quality care,” she said. “We have such a committed board, focused on the well being of staff and community.”

Darlette Miguel, of Waimea, walked through the ER Saturday, just “taking it all in.”

“It’s really nice that Queen’s came in and brought so much to the community,” she said.

Miguel wasn’t surprised by the community’s support for the project.

“This community pulls together, even down to a playground,” Miguel said of the fundraising efforts.

Miguel wasn’t just amazed by the technology. She appreciated the care that was taken in the art placed on the walls.

“It is so ‘Waimea’ with all the horses,” she said. “I’m in awe. It’s wonderful and we’re so lucky to have this in our town.”

Chris Hawkins, of Waimea, brought his daughters Haley and Jillian to the open house to get them familiar with it.

“I partly wanted see the new building and get them oriented with it,” Hawkins said, adding the next he has to take his children to the ER, they’ll know where they’re going and be more comfortable with the surroundings.

The ER was an 18-month project. It is now triple its original size, from 3,300 square feet to over 12,000 square feet. Waimea’s ER sees about 1,000 patients a month. NHCH spokeswoman Lynn Scully said the old department often exceeded standard of the number of patients received to the number of beds available.

The old ER had six beds with three in the hallway. The new facility will house 13 private patient rooms —11 standard and two for trauma.

“It’s a completely new building that is attached to the hospital,” Scully said. “Building from the ground up, you end up with such a better facility.”

The hospital’s old ER has been turned into a “behind-the-scenes” space with offices, lockers and meeting rooms. The ER is the largest construction project since the hospital was built in 1996.

The new emergency room will be open for its first patients on Jan. 29.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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