My Turn: Open letter to North Hawaii hospital’s CEO

Dear Ms. Cindy Kamikawa,

I am writing both as a recent hospital patient in Waimea (Kamuela), and also as a concerned community resident in Honokaa.

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As a resident who depends on North Hawaii Community Hospital for my medical needs, I have become concerned with the seemingly continuous turnover of doctors, nurses and other staff in the North Hawaii Community Hospital. Working conditions for these professional staff have become untenable for many of the nurses and doctors. Highest among the several problems facing them is the huge inequality of pay for the nurses working on the Big Island compared to the pay of nurses on our sister island of Oahu. This is true even though nurses on both islands are part of The Queen’s Health Systems and both are doing the exact same work. The nurses on Oahu earn almost $10 more per hour than do our nurses on the Big Island at North Hawaii Community Hospital.

The nurses here are also being forced to work in areas that are often not their specialty and interest. The result of all of this turmoil are discontented nurses and doctors who often leave. Nurses are brought in from many other areas of the mainland to take the place of displaced local nurses. Thus, we have no continuity of doctors and nurses in our community who we get to know.

As a patient, I had surgery twice this year, in April and in May. In the recovery room on April 25, where I felt dizzy and thirsty, I was offered coffee, which I really appreciated. I’d had nothing to eat or drink in over 12 hours. However, after my May 9 surgery in the recovery room, I was not offered coffee. When I asked why I couldn’t have coffee, I was told that the administration had cut out all the coffee for everyone and the free Reiki volunteers were cut for people who wish to have relaxation during surgery. Such little things that meant a lot to me as a patient were cut.

So, I would say that the hospital with its new almost-finished OR should be more than just bricks and steel. It is made of the nurses, doctors, aides, volunteers and patients and everyone else who lives and works in our community. The working people deserve the same equality in pay and working conditions as their fellow workers and patients at The Queen’s Health Systems on Oahu.

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Sincerely, a concerned community resident.

Margaret Roche is a resident of Honokaa.