By Max Dible West Hawaii Today
Emergency remodel: Revamped department at Kohala Hospital already making a difference.

KAILUA-KONA — In rural North Hawaii, a couple of beds go a long way.

Such was the justification for the renovations to Kohala Hospital’s Emergency Department, which was relocated, re-sized and re-opened on Sept. 19. A space that for years accommodated two patients now can handle four.

State Sen. Josh Green, who doubles as an ED doctor in Kohala, described the new facility as a “game changer,” adding it was “long overdue.”

It’s infrequent that more than a couple patients simultaneously demand care in the Kohala Hospital ER, but such was the case during one of Green’s most recent shifts.

“I’ll tell you, I was awfully relieved we had the four beds as opposed to the usual two,” Green said. “It makes a big difference.”

Even a few weeks ago, multiple patients would have been forced to wait or receive treatment in the triage room or the hallway.

Several years and $2 million in state appropriations since the state green lit construction, the completed ED accomplishes several logistical and workflow upgrades.

The new location allows for direct access between the ED and incoming ambulances, separates emergency care from long-term patient care areas and made possible a new visitors’ waiting room.

The layout inside the ED, which Green said is superior to the one it replaced, allows a direct line of sight into all four patient rooms from a centralized nursing station.

“Being able to have my eyes on the patients from behind the desk, I can see if there’s any trouble happening right on the spot,” he explained. “It’s more reassuring to the patients.”

Adding to that reassurance are upgraded security features, according to a press release from the hospital. The upgrades include multiple “high-security cameras” both inside and outside the ED, as well as state-of-the-art access doors.

Gino Amar, hospital administrator, noted in the release that it took more than state money to make the new addition to Kohala Hospital a reality. He praised the Kohala Hospital Charitable Foundation for providing support and financial assistance to the project.