Big Isle hospital expands ties with mainland clinic
Cardiovascular care is expected to improve for Big Island patients because of an expanded alliance between North Hawaii Community Hospital and the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.
"In order for us to provide state-of-the-art care in a remote, rural environment, we realized we need pretty good partners to help us," Ken Riff, executive director of the Heart Brain Center at North Hawaii Community Hospital, said in a telephone interview.
NORTH HAWAII COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
» A community-owned, nonprofit, full-service acute-care hospital in Waimea (Kamuela) on the Big Island
» Associated with Adventist Health, based in Roseville, Calif., which has an international network of health care facilities
» Opened in May 1996 and serves about 30,000 residents and visitors in the Big Island's northern area
» The 85-year-old health care system includes 12 hospitals (10 in Ohio and two in Florida), 1,700 doctors, 34,000 employees, 14 family health centers and five surgery centers.
» Everyone who works there, including doctors, is a salaried employee with a one-year contract. Professional reviews are done annually to maintain quality.
Sources: North Hawaii Community Hospital
Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic
Executives of the small, remote hospital in Waimea and the huge urban hospital in Cleveland reached agreement on five new cooperative efforts during a forum last week on the Big Island.
The North Hawaii Community Hospital established a Hawaii Heart Brain Center in 2004 to try to reverse the area's stroke and heart death rates, highest in the state.
The Waimea hospital formed a partnership last year with the Queen's Medical Center to improve response time for patients with cardiac and coronary symptoms. Queen's established a 24/7 center to speed up emergency transfers of cardiac patients.
The small hospital became affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic in 2004 when Earl and Doris Bakken gave $10 million to the clinic to develop a center to study heart and brain relationships. The center is called the Earl and Doris Bakken Heart-Brain Institute.
Bakken is president emeritus of the North Hawaii Community Hospital and co-founder and director emeritus of Medtronic Inc., the world's leading medical technology company.
Riff said Bakken talked at recent meetings about how specialists in Western medicine "have been taking the body apart" for 30 years.
"His goal was to start to put the body back together again, looking at connections between the heart and brain instead of treating each organ system independently," Riff said.
Dr. Toby Cosgrove, chief executive officer and board chairman of Cleveland Clinic, said clinic officials are excited about the partnership with North Hawaii Community Hospital and their heart-brain programs.
"Dr. Bakken stimulated us to think this way," Cosgrove said in a telephone interview. "We think this is a new concept in beginning to understand the connections between the heart and brain.
"It's a nice opportunity for both organizations to improve as we work together."
Announcing expanded activities, Cosgrove said the clinic:
» Will make cardiologists and neurologists available 24/7 for telephone consultation with North Hawaii Community Hospital doctors.
» Advise the Hawaii hospital on design of a state-of-the-art emergency room and staffing to provide top care and coordination with ambulances for a seamless system.
» Help the North Hawaii hospital select and install an advanced 64-slice CAT scanner that allows imaging of the heart, and train doctors and technicians to do the imaging.
» Make its educational programs available to doctors and nurses at the North Hawaii Community Hospital.
» Share expertise on health and wellness programs -- an area in which the small Hawaii hospital can help the big Cleveland Clinic.
"We have experience here on how one might do holistic medicine and holistic care philosophy," Riff said.
Cosgrove, a cardiac surgeon, said he realized before becoming CEO of the Cleveland Clinic that "we aren't really in the health business, but in a sickness business."
"Our hospital has the highest acuity rating of any hospital in the country as far as severity of illness of a patient. ... No one really thought about wellness and the ability to keep people well as opposed to getting them well," Cosgrove said.
Looking at ways to approach this, Cosgrove said, they realized "we had to begin to embrace alternative forms of medicine and all the other things that are part of wellness."