NHCH Addresses Maternal Care Overcrowding
Posted on Friday, May 11, 2012

NHCH was designed to support a maximum of 550 births each year.  Last year, 663 babies were delivered and that number is on pace to exceed 700 births in 2012. At present, 51% of the births at NHCH are from women who live outside our service area. To ease overcrowding and preserve patient safety, our Waimea Women’s Center will only accept new maternal care patients who live within our defined service area starting May 11, 2012. 

“Unfortunately, overcrowding has become a very real and growing problem. NHCH cannot continue to serve the entire island with over half of the babies delivered coming from women who live outside our North Hawaii service area. Our commitment is to reduce overcrowding, preserve safety, improve patient satisfaction and maintain our NHCH program where midwives are an integral part of our maternal care program,” said Ken Wood, NHCH’s President and CEO.  NHCH’s mission is to improve the health status of the people of North Hawaii by improving access to care and providing high quality services at a reasonable cost.

Six weeks ago NHCH formed an internal Maternal Care Work Group comprised of three doctors, one midwife, six nurses and three staff members to evaluate NHCH issues of overcrowding, safety, patient satisfaction, and financial and resource implications.  The hospital’s executive team deliberated the Maternal Care Work Group recommendations and weighed additional input from our Board of Directors, Community Advisory Board, and community input facilitated by the Waimea Community Association.

By the end of this review process, overriding safety concerns prompted the hospital’s executive team to take immediate action. “Before arriving at this tough decision to reduce NHCH volume to a safe and sustainable level by defining maternal care access by service area, we wanted to be sure that women from around the island would have access to maternal care services,” stated Wood. “We believe there is adequate maternal care capacity with OBs and Family Practice physicians who practice in the Hilo and Kona service areas,” stated Wood. 

Our hospital’s service area is defined by the Hawaii County Emergency Medical Response zone, which is the area north of a line roughly running from Laupahoehoe on the Hamakua coast across the Saddle to Kukio in North Kona.  Effective May 11, 2012, NHCH will only offer maternal care services to women whose primary address is within this EMT area.

Residence zip code will determine eligibility for maternal health care services at our Waimea Women’s Center. The following towns and zip codes are included in NHCH’s maternal care service area:

Zip Code by Town 

96719 Hawi 
96727 Honokaa
96738 Waikoloa
96743 Kamuela
96755 Kapaau
96764 Laupahoehoe
96774 Ookala 
96776 Paauilo
96780 Papaaloa 
    -      Kukio/Hualalai Only

This change impacts all new maternal care appointments, and exceptions will not be made. Women who are already active and registered in a course of maternal care treatment with the Waimea Women’s Center can complete their care with NHCH.

Please click here for FAQs on NHCH's maternal care overcrowding, including a list of providers in Hilo and Kona.