WAILUKU – Maui Memorial Medical Center’s (MMMC) emergency room, or ER, treated over 45,000 patients in 2014 – a 3.37 percent increase over 2013 and a 25 percent increase over the past five years.
The increase has resulted in longer wait times and shortage of available beds for admitted patients, a problem many other hospitals across the state, and nation, are facing.
In recent weeks, the increase in emergency department (ED) admissions mirrors other hospitals in the state with increased influenza cases. According to Ramona Chapman, RN, Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator at MMMC, there have been 50 confirmed influenza cases from January 1 through 23, 2015, compared to 27 for the entire month of December 2014.
In response to the influx of patients seeking emergency care, MMMC is evaluating ED best practices to improve treatment flow and wait times. Additionally, officials encourage Maui residents and visitors to seek medical attention or advice from their primary care physicians during normal business hours at the onset of worrisome symptoms.
“While we are absolutely not discouraging people from seeking medical help at our Emergency Department, statistically speaking we do see a lot of patients that either did not require immediate attention, could have been safely cared for in a primary care setting, or could have avoided the ED visit with proper and timely primary care,” said Julius Montehermoso, MMMC ED Nurse Manager.
Hospital officials also remind public that whether the ED is busy or not, the intake process puts priority on medical need versus a first-come, first-serve basis.
“It is our responsibility to serve based on need. We use an emergency severity index, or ESI, which helps determine severity of condition, what kind of care the patient needs and how long they can wait for treatment,” Montehermoso said. “The majority of U.S. hospitals use it.”
“It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your life,” said Montehermoso. “But we do believe that taking care of your health in a timely manner, and not waiting until you feel the ED is your only option, is better for you all around.”
Maui Memorial Medical Center is Maui’s only full-service, acute medical care facility. Located in central Maui in Wailuku, the center has 1,500 employees and is licensed for 213 acute care beds, and provides comprehensive healthcare for Maui County, including Lanai and Molokai. MMMC is the fourth largest hospital in the state and the only hospital outside of Oahu also providing comprehensive cardiac services, including open-heart surgery and angioplasty. For more information about MMMC, visit www.mauimemorialmedical.org<http://www.mauimemorialmedical.org/>.
HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) annual Stop Flu at School program begins today and will continue in more than 300 public, private, and charter schools statewide through Nov. 27, 2013. This is the seventh year for the voluntary program, which administers free flu vaccinations to Hawaii students in kindergarten through grade 8.
“Despite cutbacks in spending at all levels of government, we prioritized funding for this important program, which helps protect our children,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “By reducing flu in our keiki, older adults in the household will have less exposure to the virus, so that fewer of them will get it. Ultimately, this cost-effective prevention program saves lives and reduces healthcare costs.”
To vaccinate more than 60,000 students during the six-week program, DOH will orchestrate a team of more than 1,000 clinic staff that include volunteers from the Hawaii Medical Reserve Corps, state Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, UH Hilo School of Pharmacy, nursing programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hawaii Pacific University, Kapiolani Community College, Chaminade University, UH Hilo, Kauai County Community College, and UH Maui College.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older.
“The Stop Flu at School program not only helps to protect the health of Hawaii students, it is an integral part of maintaining the state’s ability to respond to infectious disease emergencies like pandemic influenza,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “Through this program, we are able to work with our many partners to practice and refine our mass vaccination plans.”
For more information about the Stop Flu at School program, go to http://flu.hawaii.gov/sfas.html or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.
The Stop Flu at School program is an innovative partnership between the State of Hawaii Departments of Health and Education, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, and Hawaii Catholic Schools. The program is endorsed by the Hawaii Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians and is made possible through funding received from the CDC and the Hawaii Association of Health Plans.
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed the state’s first flu-related pediatric death during the current flu season. The individual was a four-year-old female who passed away in a Honolulu hospital on Jan. 20, 2013.
“This is an uncommon and tragic death,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “Not every child will become this seriously ill from the flu; however, it is a wake-up call for everyone to protect themselves and their loved ones against the flu. The flu vaccine is still the best method of protection and recommended for everyone six months of age and older.”
Flu activity in Hawaii is still considered low when compared with mainland states. Information on where to get a flu vaccination is available at http://www.flu.hawaii.gov/VaccineLocator.html or by calling 2-1-1. It is recommended that people call ahead to make appointments for vaccination as late season demand has affected vaccine availability. Other methods for reducing the spread of flu include: washing hands often with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying at home when you are sick. For more information on the flu go to: http://flu.hawaii.gov/
The seasonal flu is one of many illnesses that are prevented through vaccination. Vaccinating each child born in the United States in a given year following the current childhood immunization schedule could prevent approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease.
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