Dialysis Patients Turned Away at Queen’s West in Oahu

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OAHU, HI – According to a Hawaii News Now article, the Queen’s Medical Center West in Oahu is turning away dialysis patients on a daily basis. The center recently underwent $100 million in renovations.  Yet, an executive staff member of the facility said they are turning patients away because the dialysis facilities are not “cost effective.”

Hawaii News Now spoke with Sarah, a 72 year old dialysis patient, who currently lives in Kapolei and visits the center three times a week for dialysis treatment. Sarah recalled an incident in May where she was rushed to the new Queen’s West emergency room (ER) for shortness of breath and inability to walk. When she arrived, she found that the facility had no dialysis treatment stations available and as result could not be admitted.

Sarah waited for nearly 4 hours in the Queen’s ER waiting room, until she was eventually transferred by ambulance to the downtown Queen’s location for treatment. “And I waited that long. Just stayed in the room and waited,” Sarah said.

But this is not simply a one time occurrence. The following June Sarah experienced a similar emergency situation and was rushed to Queen’s West ER again. For a second time she arrived to find no dialysis treatment stations available. This time she waited six hours for a station to become available at the main hospital on the other side of the island. When asked if it was uncomfortable to be waiting that long she replied, “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.”

Responding to the identified problem was Susan Murray, Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s West. “It is not cost effective to have the staff and equipment in place for that low volume,” she said. Typical staff include dialysis technicians and nursing professionals.  Queen’s main location at Punchbowl has approximately 20-30 patients that need acute dialysis at any given time. On average only about two patients per day actually require dialysis treatment at Queen’s West. “Services evolve as the needs grow,” Murray said, “As West grows in volume, West will probably provide acute dialysis services at the appropriate time.”

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