Emergency rooms filling void left by HMC

Published: Dec. 20, 2011 at 10:23 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2011 at 10:45 PM HST
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Dr. Stephen Bradley
Dr. Stephen Bradley
Dr. Melanie Kelly
Dr. Melanie Kelly

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since Hawaii Medical Center West shut its emergency room, the pressure now falls on other emergency rooms and clinics.

So far the patient load at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center's emergency room is manageable, with just a few more. But the concern is that it could get out of hand in a hurry.

"Worst case scenario is just basically what our possibilities are of seeing the patients we have, triaging them, and transporting them to where they have to go," medical director Dr. Stephen Bradley said.

The staff held a planning session Tuesday on how to care for more patients, who would have gone to HMC.

"There are certain things that we don't do, transfusions and surgeries," Bradley said. "But other than that we're pretty well-equipped with excellent personnel to do many if not most of the procedures that you expect out of an emergency room."

At Pearl City Urgent Care, a brand new clinic with state-of-the-art equipment, the impact was immediate. HMC closed its ER Monday and business at the Pearl City clinic tripled from five patients to fifteen.

"We have already doubled the number of staff that we have every day," said Dr. Melanie Kelly, the clinic's medical director. "We're trying to bring on more emergency physicians to cover this urgent care."

Hawaii Medical Center's two emergency rooms averaged 100 patients a day. HMC West operated the second busiest emergency room on Oahu.

"I think that the rest of us in the community still practicing will step up to help fill the void," Kelly said.

Big hospital emergency rooms adjusted staffing to accommodate more cases. So far the patient count has been slightly higher.

For small emergency rooms, the test will be over upcoming long holiday weekends when demand will increase.

"We're trying to prepare and be ahead of the flow of whatever goes on," Bradley said.

With Hawaii Medical Center out of the picture, other emergency rooms may now face their own 911.

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