Ed and Joan Angel, Orthopedic and Day Surgery Patient

My wife and I were on vacation and took a Mauna Kea summit tour on a 15 passenger mini-bus. We stopped at the Visitor Center at 9,000 feet to acclimate to the altitude, eat a small meal, and receive our parkas for the ascent to the summit. Shortly after leaving the mini-bus, my wife, Joan, fell and fractured her left ankle very seriously. EMS from the nearby military training range came and transported us to North Hawaii Community Hospitals ER.

Joan was cared for by your ER and orthopedic staff, specifically Orthopedic Physician and Surgeon, Dr. Douglas Hiller.  Dr. Hiller set the fracture, placed her in a splint, advised surgery would be necessary to repair the breaks and recommended surgery the following day.  Joan would have preferred to return to her orthopedic physician back home for the surgery, however, Dr. Hiller suggested she consider her options overnight and let him know the next day.

By the time we were ready to leave NHCH, it was nearly 10:00 PM.  We were staying 30 minutes away at a condo in the Waikoloa Beach resort area and didn’t have any transportation. One of your ER staff found a local taxi to take us back to our condo.  After Joan had a fitful night sleep, the next day we returned to NHCH and Dr. Hiller placed a rod and 9 screws in Joan's ankle. The surgery was very successful; she stayed overnight and was discharged the next day. 

It is hard to find the words to express the wonderful care Joan was given at NHCH and, indeed, the positive attitude of all those with whom we had contact. It is difficult to remember everyone’s specific names we were in contact with at NHCH, but a few remain vivid in our minds.  In the ER: Dr. Haleakala, Dr. Hiller, an RN named Bob, and Carolyn.  In the Same Day Surgery Unit: Dr. Hon, Terri and Bernie. In Medical/Surgical Services: there were numerous staff that treated Joan with the greatest care, we remember Barbara and Sarah of your Physical Therapy department. Those are the ones we remember, but are not nearly all who treated Joan so well.

I mentioned to Dr. Hiller, "NHCH is a shining gem in today's muddled world of hospitals and healthcare." And he simply replied, "That's what we're trying to be."

Thank you, NHCH, for being there when we needed you and for the excellent care you provided.

Ed and Joan Angel
Georgetown, Texas


Christine Zalewski, Orthopedic and Day Surgery Patient

We live part-time in Hawaii, and during the first morning at our Hawaii home, I was moving furniture on our lanai, kicked a stack of chairs (I'm sure there is an emoticon for this!) and broke a bone in my foot requiring prompt surgical repair.  I had x-rays taken in Kona and sent them to two orthopedic surgeons; my regular sports medicine doctor and a friend in Alaska.  Both agreed that the surgery was necessary and needed to be done as quickly as possible.

We assumed we would need to fly home and even changed our airline tickets back to the mainland for the surgery, but then discovered your surgeons and medical facility.  Our friends happened to be in a marlin fishing tournament in Kona and sent out a message over the radio to all the boats asking if anyone knew of a surgeon on the Island who would be qualified to perform this procedure.  The answer came back "Dr. Hiller".  

I called Dr. Hiller’s office and was told he was leaving in a few hours for vacation and wouldn't be back for a week, which would have been too long to wait for surgery.  However, the office was so kind they agreed to pass our e-mailed x-rays on to Dr. Hiller for his opinion.  Within a couple of hours, Dr. Hiller’s office called back and told us that he would see us before he left.  

When we met with Dr. Hiller, he said the break in my foot was very unusual and asked if his fellow orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Payne, would be willing to do the surgery since he was leaving town.  Dr. Payne agreed and changed her schedule to fit me into the OR just two days later.  We were amazed to find that Dr. Payne is a Duke trained orthopedic hand surgeon who also specialized in microvascular surgery...pure serendipity.  

Everyone in the Orthopedic office, including both surgeons, Dr. Hiller and Dr. Payne, went out of their way to make sure we had timely and optimal treatment, even though we were not full-time residents-- much less established patients.  The same was true for the OR.  Everyone took the time to double check, to ask questions, and to speak with each other about the best medications for me since I don’t tolerate them very well.  Everything, simply everything, was explained fully, leaving no room for worry.  The entire operating room staff were kind and thoughtful-- not only with me, but every interaction I witnessed with other patients and their relatives was the same.  As it turned out, being a same-day surgery patient at North Hawaii Community Hospital was more pleasant than going to a spa-- and the quality of the medical care was beyond first-rate.  

Overall, the experience at your hospital evoked the feeling of being under the care of an old-time family doctor, an entity that cares for the patient’s well-being above all else.  Given the many recent difficulties and challenges with health care in this country, I didn’t really believe this model still existed.  For this renewed faith in the system, I thank you!

Consequently, should I similarly injure myself on the mainland; I would be tempted to fly here to undergo the surgery!  Not only did I feel safe in the hands of your intelligent, competent, and attentive professionals, but I experienced none of the side-effects of surgical procedures that are so typical for me, no sickness, headache, or discomfort of any kind.  It was truly a remarkable experience.

Mahalo to all your staff at North Hawaii Community Hospital for their kindness and for taking such good care of me. 

Christine Zalewski