2 hospitals mark Milestones


POSTED: Thursday, October 22, 2009

Several island hospitals were established well before statehood, with two of the best-known hitting major milestones this year. The Queen's Medical Center celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, while Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children marks its 100th. A newcomer by comparison, Wahiawa General Hospital was established 65 years ago during World War II. These hospitals, like their counterparts throughout the state, continue to struggle in a tough economic climate for health care providers.


Queen's, in its 150th year, has a rich history of medical firsts for Hawaii

Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV couldn't have imagined the Queen's Medical Center of today when they founded it 150 years ago.

Established in response to diseases decimating native Hawaiians after western contact, Queen's has a rich history of firsts since opening in 1860.

Among them: The first known blood test performed in Hawaii in 1905, the first open heart surgery in 1959, establishment of a Native Hawaiian Health Program in 2006, introduction of da Vinci robotic surgery and the first single incision laparoscopic surgery in 2007, removing a gallbladder through the navel.

It is one of only 51 U.S. hospitals to meet all standards for national accreditation for its Breast Center.

As the state's trauma center, its doors are open to patients from throughout the state and Pacific. The soaring cost for bad debt and charity care, particularly in a depressed economy, is a major challenge.

However, Queen's continues to offer new medical procedures and expand services, offering palliative care and classes to manage health.

Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin


Midwives and plantation doctors provided early care in the region

Midwives and plantation doctors provided most medical care in the Wahiawa region until World War II when the Hawaii Office of Civil Defense set up an emergency medical facility at Wahiawa Elementary School.

“;It was a humble beginning but vital to the interests and safety of the Central Oahu region,”; says a historical account of Wahiawa General Hospital on its Web site.

Established in 1944 as a permanent facility, the hospital meets the area's growing needs with advanced technology, 103 skilled-nursing beds, 59 acute beds and an emergency room that treats about 15,000 patients per year.

But it was on the verge of closing two years ago with a $2.7 million deficit. R. Don Olden, who became chief executive officer in January 2007, has guided the hospital to a break-even point with a restructuring plan and “;significant contributions and support”; from employees, physicians, board members, the community and Legislature.

“;Progress has been good,”; he says, “;but that still doesn't obviate the problem of small hospitals in the state of Hawaii. All are in a very difficult situation.”;

Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin


Hospital turns 100 and specializes in pediatric and maternity cases

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, celebrating its 100th anniversary, was conceived in 1890 by Queen Kapiolani with establishment of the Kapiolani Maternity Home.

The home evolved into the Kauikeolani Children's Hospital on Kuakini Street in 1909 because of community concerns about a high infant death rate. Kauikeolani merged in 1978 with Kapiolani Hospital at Punahou and Bingham streets.

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, with 207 beds and 90 bassinets, is the state's only pediatric specialty hospital and high-risk maternity center.

An affiliate of Hawaii Pacific Health, it specializes in newborn care, provides Women's, Breast and Cancer Centers dedicated to the health and well-being of women and is a medical teaching and research facility.

Following Queen Kapiolani's motto, “;Kulia I Ka Nu'u”; or “;Strive for the Highest,”; the hospital plans a 15-year rebuilding plan with construction starting in 2014 to accommodate new technologies and changes in obstetric and pediatric care.

Helen Altonn, Star-Bulletin