Two West Hawaii hospitals recently earned recognition for infection and heart failure care. One is also revamping its breast health program by providing better screening and early detection of the most common type of cancer for women — breast cancer.
North Hawaii Community Hospital’s new breast health program offers patients access to the latest technology, a more comfortable experience, faster image analysis and ongoing support, in coordination with the state’s mammography self-referral law, hospital officials said.
The new state law, effective July 1, allows women over age 40, for the first time, the right and ability to choose when, where and with whom they’d like to schedule their annual breast-screening exam, without a referral from their primary care physician or permission from their health care provider.
NHCH’s Imaging Department recently upgraded from analog technology to a state-of-the-art digital mammography machine. The machine provides technologists the ability to review the images in real time to determine image quality, providing more information for diagnosis. Mammography results are now produced more quickly, helping to decrease patient anxiety.
Should an abnormality be discovered during a patient’s screening mammography, NHCH radiologist can now expedite additional testing and, if necessary, perform a minimally invasive biopsy to establish a diagnosis.
“We revamped our breast health program by incorporating multiple upgrades and process improvements by creating a more patient-centered model of care, which supports patients throughout the entire mammography process from start to finish,” said Lorrie Mortensen, NHCH patient care services vice president and chief nursing officer. “Mammography results that used to take days or weeks are now available in a fraction of that time.”
Also at NHCH, Infection Prevention Coordinator Jennifer Rabalais has demonstrated a mastery of infection prevention and control knowledge by taking and passing the comprehensive examination, according to the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology Inc. She is just one of 5,000 practitioners worldwide to receive this certification maintained through successful completion of a recertification examination every five years.
Meanwhile in Kealakekua, Kona Community Hospital received the Get With The Guidelines — Heart Failure Gold Quality Achievement Award. This signifies KCH has reached an aggressive goal of treating heart failure patients with 85 percent compliance for at least 24 months to core standard levels of care as outlined by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology secondary prevention for heart failure patients.
Under Get With The Guidelines — Heart Failure, patients are started on aggressive risk reduction therapies, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, beta-blockers, aspirin, diuretic and anticoagulants while in the hospital. They also receive alcohol and drug use and thyroid management counseling, as well as referrals for cardiac rehabilitation before being discharged, according to KCH.
The program helps hospital staff develop and implement acute and secondary prevention guideline processes. It includes quality-improvement measures like care maps, discharge protocols, standing orders and measurement tools. These guidelines enable KCH to improve the quality of care it provides heart failure patients, save lives and, ultimately, reduce health care costs by lowering recurrence of heart attacks.
“KCH is dedicated to making our care for heart failure patients among the best in the country,” said Marcy Rogers, registered nurse and director of quality improvement. “In addition to our new cardiology clinic, implementing the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines program will help us accomplish this goal by making cardiac care more readily available, and making it easier to improve the long-term outcome for these patients.”