EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Queen's Medical Center West, which just opened in May with more than $100 million in renovations, is turning away dialysis patients on a daily basis, causing long waits in the emergency room and transfers across town, partly because an executive there said dialysis facilities are not "cost effective" there yet.
Hawaii News Now spoke to a kidney failure patient named Sarah, 72, who lives in Kapolei and goes three times a week for three-hour dialysis treatments.
When her husband rushed her to the new Queen's West new emergency room in May as she suffered from shortness of breath and the inability to walk, she found out the new facility did not have dialysis treatment available, so it could not admit her.
"And I waited that long. Just stayed in the room and waited," Sarah said.
She said she waited four hours in the Queen's West ER until she was transferred by ambulance to the downtown Queens location for treatment.
Then the same thing happened a second time, when she went back to the Queen's West ER in June and waited six hours for a dialysis room to become available at the main Queens hospital across the island.
Asked if she was uncomfortable waiting that long, Sarah said, "Oh yeah, because one o'clock in the morning already and then I'm still there waiting and I cannot really sleep during that night."
Dialysis patients are being turned away from Queen's West on a daily basis, sometimes several of them a day, according to Queen's officials.
On the average day at Queen's main location on Punchbowl, officials said, about 20 to 30 of their patients need acute dialysis, but at Queen's West, only around two patients a day require dialysis.
"It is not cost effective to have the staff and equipment in place for that low volume," said Susan Murray, the chief operating officer of Queen's West.
"We are looking at having some capability for providing dialysis at the hospital in the future," she said in a statement.
"Services evolve as the needs grow," Murray said, "As West grows in volume, West will probably provide acute dialysis services at the appropriate time."
Sources said some patients languish at the new ER for six hours or more as medical crews scramble to find dialysis beds for them at Queens in town or at other hospitals and dialysis centers.
The dialysis center located on the Queens West property is independently operated and is not set up to handle emergency or acute patients, Murray said. It's not open 24 hours and is already busy with its own patients, people familiar with kidney treatment said.