Thursday, November 16, 2006


Flirting with disaster - Kahuku Hospital should not close

Both Mother Nature and the Star-Bulletin editors have just given us warnings we should heed--we mustn't let our health care system deteriorate further. Part of keeping it strong and ready for a real disaster should include keeping Kahuku Hospital open to serve its community.

The micro-tsunami that moistened Hawaii's shoreline yesterday may have been a wake up call sent our way. The real threat was not the tsunami. It was described in headlines splashed across the front pages of the daily papers: Kahuku Hospital would not be there when it's needed.

Imagine that you're in an auto accident on the North Shore. How long will it take for the ambulance to get to you? And how long before it delivers you to Wahiawa General or to Castle in rush-hour traffic?

Suppose you, your wife or your neighbor suddenly needed to give birth and complications are indicated. Will a long ride to a far away hospital be ok with you then?

The estimated travel time is an hour or more. That's unacceptable. In poor travel conditions (storm, rush hour traffic, North Shore surfing contest) I'll bet it will be worse than that.

Or suppose a real tsunami heads our way. With decreased hospital capacity and a huge shortage of shelters we could be in one heap of trouble.

Our leaders, including Governor Lingle, should meet right away and announce a solution that will keep Kahuku Hospital open.

It's better not to wait because it's hard to keep staff on board when they know that a hospital is about to close.

Related articles on

Hawaii's medical infrastructure deteriorating, unready for disasters

Update: Lights out in the ER--Hawaii's deteriorating medical infrastructure

Disappearing Doctors: Hawaii looks for quick but questionable fixes

FEMA still not reformed

Why was Kauai's dam failure not prevented?

Must Hawaii repeat Louisiana's mistakes?


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