Big Island hospital wins national health award
North Hawaii Community Hospital has won a prestigious award for its efforts to reduce the Big Island's stroke and cardiovascular rates.
It is the first hospital in Hawaii, and one of only 36 in the country, to receive the American Heart Association's Get With the Guidelines -- Coronary Artery Disease Initial Performance Achievement Award.
The award recognizes the hospital's commitment to the highest standards of care for patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease.
"This achievement could not have been done without our hard-working staff and physicians," said Stan Berry, the hospital's chief executive officer.
Dr. Ken Riff, executive director of the hospital's Hawaii Heart Brain Center, said the hospital had to meet rigorous program requirements for three months to win the award. It required a lot of training and work to put systems, processes and quality improvement programs in place, he said.
The Heart Brain Center was established a year ago to respond to the Big Island's stroke and cardiovascular death rate -- highest in the state.
"The things we're complying with are guidelines put together by AHA as having demonstrated better outcomes for people with coronary artery disease," Riff said in an interview.
He said a lot of clinical trials over the years have shown certain things can be done to get better results, such as use of certain drugs, reducing cholesterol and stopping smoking. "Outcomes are 40 to 50 percent better if we do these things," Riff said.
Both stroke and heart attacks are due to vascular disease with common risk problems, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure and depression, Riff said.
"We're working on all of those things together. We call it Heart Brain Center because of the overlapping disease, risk factors and therapies."
Hospitals receiving the AHA award discharged at least 85 percent of coronary patients without other medical problems after following the recommended treatments.
Dr. William Dang, AHA volunteer chairman for the Hawaii Get With the Guidelines project, applauded the Waimea hospital for "its success in implementing the appropriate standards of care and protocols to reduce the number of recurrent events in coronary patients.
"The hospital is well above the national average in terms of implementing these lifesaving treatments," Dang said.