HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For a place most would consider just a sleepy little town, Molokai General Hospital sees a lot of action.
Especially the emergency room.
On a normal day there’s only one doctor who’ll treat between 15 and 20 patients during a single shift.
“We get whatever it is. So we have to be trained and ready and have the equipment and the staff to take care of that. Stabilize people if we need to ship them,” said Molokai General president Janice Kalanihuia.
Kalanihuia discussed the problem during a recent sit-down with emergency room doctor and Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
“To put this into perspective Molokai General is significantly busier than other critical care hospitals,” Green said. “Probably at least twice as busy.”
Kalanihuia explained the physician shortage on Molokai is so bad that none of it’s ER doctors even live on the island. Instead one is flown in everyday.
She says the lack of doctors on-island hasn’t affected the quality care, however bringing in traveling staff is upping the cost of operation.
Kalanihuia referred to it as a problem that keeps her up at night.
She said, “If the state could provide some type of incentive to get people to come to rural areas. Particularly Molokai, Lanai, Hana. It’s really difficult to attract somebody from the mainland or even from Oahu to live this really rural lifestyle."
In addition to needing emergency room doctors who live on-island, the hospital is also short a certified midwife and three registered nurses.
That might not sound like much, but that’s about 20 percent of its nursing staff.
“We take new grads,” said Kalanihuia. “We need more local people, local kids and local even non-traditional students to go into health care and come back home to work here.”
Since returning to Oahu Green has pledged to work on the problem saying he will, “Promote loan forgiveness and relocation benefits to any provider who will commit to working on Molokai -- as one of the state’s most rural communities.”