Friday, July 30, 1999

Kahuku Hospital
celebrates 50th year

'Here to stay'

By Helen Altonn


Kahuku Hospital tomorrow will celebrate 50 years of health care provided to North Shore residents and visitors and its own survival from near- fatal financial ills.

After years of struggle, Daniel T. Ditto, Hawaii Reserves Inc. president and hospital board chairman, said, "I believe the hospital is here to stay now."

He said it wouldn't have happened without support and financial aid from Gov. Ben Cayetano, the Legislature and four charitable foundations.

The community also organized to help retain the only hospital serving Koolauloa and the North Shore.

"And I don't think a lot of people realize how much sacrifice the employees did to keep this place open," said Wayne Fairchild, hospital administrator.

If it weren't for the employees, it would have cost five times more to keep the hospital operating, he said. "I can't say enough for the staff out here."

If the little rural hospital had closed in 1997 when it was shouldering a $1.5 million deficit, 16 Sacred Falls landslide victims who were treated there May 9 would have had to go twice as far -- to Castle Medical Center in Kailua.

Party prizes 'Kahuku born'

Star-Bulletin staff

The first 300 people to prove they were born at Kahuku Hospital will receive a "Kahuku Born and Proud" T-shirt at a golden anniversary party from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow at the hospital.

Events will include:

Bullet 7 a.m., 5K Fun Run/Walk around the hospital, followed by a health fair, archival gallery, hospital tours, keiki fun, food and entertainment.

Bullet 1 p.m., a special program to dedicate the hospital's new flagpole and seal a commemorative time capsule.

Bullet 1 to 3 p.m., "Baywatch Hawaii" cast members visit for autographs and photos, with hourly door prizes from Sam Choy, Kim Taylor Reese, Dole plantation and others, a Dunk-the-Doc booth and displays, including a medical airlift helicopter and ambulance.

Also, a golf tournament is set Aug. 26 at the Links at Turtle Bay. Sign-in is at 1 p.m. The $35 fee includes cart, green fees, T-shirt and refreshments. Deadline to enter is Aug. 16. Call Seiko Shiroma, 293-9119.

"It was a sad, sad event, but I was grateful we could contribute," Ditto said, pointing out that the tragedy illustrates what he and others have been saying about the 25-bed hospital's importance.

"This hospital not only serves a critical segment of the population but a very large population of residents and tourists who come here for recreation from the other side of the island."

Funding from the state and the Queen Emma, Castle, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and James and Abigail Campbell foundations gave the hospital time to initiate cost-savings measures, Ditto said.

A $750,000 savings was achieved in the last fiscal year and the goal is to double that this year, he said. "If we're successful, we'll be much closer to being profitable."

Fairchild said that when he told people he was joining Kahuku Hospital last April, "they congratulated me, then said, 'Are you sure? Are you going to have a job after a while?' "

He said, "Every month we're getting better and we've made changes that increase the number of patients. . . . The word gets out that this is a place where you can get quality care."

Fairchild feels the hospital's biggest problem was a self-fulfilling perception: "Everybody said it was bad so nobody came here, so it fed on itself. Once people realized the hospital will deliver as good or better care for what we do than they can get on the other side of the hill, people will come back for even more."

Despite cuts in staffing and hours, Ditto said "overall quality of the hospital has improved."

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations in a recent three-year survey gave the hospital the highest score for quality in its history, he said.

Fairchild said they want to restore the hospital "to its roots as an acute care hospital, not providing just long-term care but services the community needs. . . . "

He said he's told the directors and managers, "The term 'quality' shouldn't be said. That has to be understood that we will provide quality care." And not everything the hospital does will have a positive financial impact, he said.

"We must be out there in the community providing services . . . that don't always make good business sense but make good community sense.

"We're not Queen's or Mayo -- just a nice community hospital, just like a member of the family."

Fairchild said hospital employees are putting the party together. "I thought it would be exciting to have 200 people show up here. Now they are talking thousands."

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin