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The Hospital With Heart | Business Round Table | Midweek.com

The Hospital With Heart

By Jen Chahanovich
Wednesday - July 29, 2009
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Jen Chahanovich
CEO of Kapi’olani Medical Center at Pali Momi

Kapi’olani Medical Center at Pali Momi is a hospital with heart, literally. Its creation came about through the dedication of Dr. Joe Nishimoto, a now-retired Pearl City physician who recognized the need for a state-of-the-art hospital to serve the growing Leeward community. Up until 1989, residents who needed health care had to drive one hour into town for emergency care. Armed with a petition containing 13,000 signatures from Leeward residents, Dr. Nishimoto led a community effort to secure state approval for development of what is now known as Kapi’olani Medical Center at Pali Momi.

This dedication to serving the Leeward community has remained steadfast throughout the 20 years since the hospital first opened on July 31, 1989. Paradoxically, as a hospital that was started through the passion and “heart” of Dr. Nishimoto and other caring individuals, Pali Momi has earned national recognition for its work in coronary artery and heart disease detection and treatment.


In 1994, Pali Momi opened Leeward Oahu’s only cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab) for the detection and diagnosis of heart disease - the leading cause of death for people age 45-65. In December 2008, the cath lab was upgraded, allowing our cardiologists and medical team to perform percutaneous coronary interventions. This upgrade means we are not only able to detect heart disease, but able to treat heart attack patients in a timely manner. When a patient suffers a heart attack, minutes count. The goal is to diagnose and begin treatment within 60 minutes (in health care this is known as the “Golden Hour”) and complete treatment 90 minutes from the time the patient enters the hospital. Prior to opening our cath lab, heart attack patients came to our emergency room, were evaluated then transported to another hospital in town for treatment, losing valuable minutes in a situation that is truly life or death.

CEO Jen Chahanovich (center) with members of the Pali Momi team

For the past three years, U.S. News & World Report has acknowledged Pali Momi in its “Best Hospitals in America” edition for excellence in the treatment of coronary artery disease. We also are the proud recipients of recent Gold Performance Awards from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. In 2008, Pali Momi was one of only two hospitals in Hawaii recognized for its affordability, efficiency and quality.

Along with our cath lab, Pali Momi’s list of other “firsts in health care for the Leeward community” also is impressive: We are home to the state’s first retina center; Leeward Oahu’s first permanent MRI (complete with virtual cinema vision headsets allowing patients to watch a movie while undergoing MRI procedures); the state’s first 40-slice CT scanner (now upgraded to two scanners, 64- and 16-slice); as well as the only women’s center on this side of the island offering comprehensive services including all-digital mammography.


Pali Momi truly is a hospital that was built by the community for the community! Our 840 employees, many of whom live in the Leeward area, are second to none, and our sense of “ohana"can be felt throughout the facility. It’s not uncommon to hear physicians address our longtime employees as “aunty” or “uncle.” Kapi’olani Medical Center at Pali Momi exists for all of us and our families, and you feel it everywhere you go. We are a hospital with heart, founded on the basis of providing top-notch health care to the Leeward community in an environment that is comfortable and welcoming for our patients and their families.

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