ROD THOMPSON / RTHOMPSON@STARBULLETIN.COM
Members of the Red Hats of Kau, Darleene Busse, left, Barbara Beatty and Carol Massey yesterday showed some of the crafts that will be sold at tomorrow's fundraiser for medical equipment for Kau Hospital.
Hospital’s heart care gets boost from a bake sale
HILO » If your hospital needs vital equipment to save lives, hold a bake sale.
To raise $27,000 for the state's Kau Community Hospital, three women's groups sold cookies, cakes and pies -- and some quilts, ceramics and other handicrafts -- yesterday at the entrance to the Hilo Wal-Mart. They plan to be there again today.
The money will buy a cardiac monitor, a multifunctional instrument that automatically takes readings otherwise done by nurses with individual instruments, said Carol Massey, one of the bake sale participants.
The hospital does not have several of those individual instruments, Massey said. She said a doctor commented that "it's like practicing bush medicine here."
With the monitor, a doctor can distinguish a certain type of heart attack that can be treated on the spot, Massey said.
Without it, a patient has to be taken to Hilo or Kona, about 50 miles either way. An ambulance carries a patient halfway, then a transfer takes place and a second ambulance goes the rest of the way.
By the time the patient arrives and is treated, the "golden hour" for saving the patient's life has probably passed, Massey said.
Out-of-state medical practitioners have commented that their hospitals have a cardiac monitor for each bed, said Barbara Beatty, president of the civic volunteer group Papale Ula O Kau (Red Hats of Kau).
Beatty said the fundraisers started a few years ago when a community newsletter noted that Kau Hospital needed a "pediatric code cart," a cart with emergency devices and medicines in drawers color-coded according to children's heights and weights.
In 2005 the Red Hats, as well as two clubs of ceramic makers and quilters, raised $2,800 for the cart. The next year, they raised $8,001 toward a $39,000 portable X-ray machine.
So far this year, they have raised nearly $14,000 for the cardiac monitor.
Kau hospital has 21 beds, of which two are available for acute care and the remainder are used by long-term patients, said Administrator Merilyn Harris.
The hospital is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., which gets about 10 percent of its funds from the Legislature, Harris said. The rest comes from patient charges.
Kau hospital is too small ever to be self-supporting, Harris said. It gets a little extra funding from the federal government because of its remoteness, she said.
The 2000 census showed a district population of about 6,500, Harris said. Community groups have estimated the current population is twice that, she said.
A lot of them are retirees, said Massey. "They're getting to the age now where they're going to need more (medical) services," she said.
Tax-deductible donations may be made to Kau Community Hospital ER Fundraiser and mailed to P.O. Box 821, Naalehu, HI 96772.