Operating rooms of the future: Kona hospital unveils $6M renovation project

  • Kahu Kealoha Kaopua blesses the newly renovated operating room at Kona Community Hospital at Thursday’s unveiling.

  • Sean McNeal, Kona Community Hospital Chief Nurse Executive/Associate Hospital Administrator talks about the new state of the art equipment in the operating rooms at Thursday’s unveiling. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Sean McNeal, Kona Community Hospital Chief Nurse Executive/Associate Hospital Administrator shows off the new state of the art equipment in the operating rooms at Thursday’s unveiling. (Photos by Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Kona Community Hospital unveiled its newly remodeled state-of-the-art operating rooms Thursday morning.

Over two years of planning and construction went into the complete renovation and upgrade of the Kealakekua-based facility’s three operating rooms at a cost of about $6 million. The majority of that funding came via the state capital improvement project fund with the Kona Hospital Foundation supporting some of the cost.

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“We are pleased we can bring you these new services, having 21st century services for our community,” said Chief Nurse Executive/Associate Hospital Administrator Sean McNeal. “We are very invested in delivering the best possible care starting with the most high risk area.”

Currently, the Kona Community Hospital Surgical Services Department performs over 2,200 surgical procedures annually. Operating suites are equipped for inpatient, outpatient, elective and emergency procedures. Prior to the renovation, the OR was equipped with outdated equipment.

The construction began about 19 months ago by completely demolishing one OR suite at a time down to the studs.

Each suite was then rebuilt with brand new, state-of-the-art equipment and technology down to the OR tables. New technology includes equipment booms, air conditioning system, LED lighting system, and video integration to provide better images during surgery, just to name a few.

“Each OR was built with integrated technologies that create an improved, more efficient space,” said Charlie Cholet, RNFA, and director of Surgical Services.

The biggest change to the rooms is the integration package. Surgery is all about having the right information, whether it be X-rays, lab results, history or other information, Cholet explained.

In the past, a doctor would have to walk up to a screen to look at an X-ray, then walk back to the table or stop to read the patient’s chart. Now, the information that the doctor needs is at his fingertips. Any information they want to see is on a monitor in front of them instantaneously. That efficiency could cut the OR turnover time by half.

“The complexity of the rooms is outstanding, between the air exchanges, HEPA filters, flooring, everything is in the name of patient safety, said McNeal. “That’s the key message we want to drive home is that we care enough about our community that we want to keep them safe, especially during something as possible for harm as surgery. We are blessed to have this facility and share it with the community.”

Because the new technology cuts the time a patient spends in the OR, it in turn reduces the risk for complications and infection.

“Any time you are under general anesthesia, it’s not a normal situation for your body,” said Cholet. “The longer a surgery takes, the greater the chance for infection, so by decreasing the time, we decrease the risk.”

Cholet said KCH is in the process of expanding a number of procedures it can undertake in the facility, including joint replacement, hand surgery, urology, expanded gastrointestinal and minor vascular procedures.

Plans are to keep a procedure room, created when construction was underway to maintain three operating rooms, to handle things such as pediatric dental and GI. With the additional room and efficiency from the new integrated system, Cholet said the surgical unit will be able to accommodate more procedures.

And the modernized rooms will help attract and keep more surgeons at the hospital.

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“When surgeons considering coming here and saw what we had, it wasn’t a selling point,” Cholet said. “This is.”

Added McNeal: “Stay tuned. It’s only going to get better.”

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