Hawaii vs. Mainland Medicine


Well, let’s start with the smell.
Mike just got a total knee replacement at Kaiser South San Francisco Hospital, and the hospital didn’t smell. At all. We were so pleasantly surprised, because the times I’ve been in Maui Memorial Hospital and the Moanalua Kaiser Hospital on Oahu, they both had this cloying stench. As a patient, I couldn’t stand being there. And as a visitor, Mike didn’t want to hang out with me.

Then there’s the track record. The problem with surgeries in Hawaii is the size of the population. Kaiser surgeons might perform 100-200 joint replacements per year. Yet Mike’s mainland surgeon performs 400 per year. Big difference! Lots more practice=more accurate surgeries.

When I got my gallbladder out on Maui, the surgeon dropped a stone, but didn’t know it. It festered for months and I became quite toxic. Another Maui doctor tried to remove the stone in an emergency ERCP procedure, but failed. Why? Because he doesn’t do enough of them! So I was air-lifted to Oahu, nearly dead, where they removed the stone.

But wait, there’s more. I immediately got a staph infection during the procedure and ended up in intensive care. I was in the hospital for over a week.

No one we know has surgery in Hawaii. A friend went to get a shoulder replacement at Mayo Clinic in the Midwest. Another friend is currently getting cancer treatment in San Francisco. We personally know of only one person who has been happy with the medical care; a part – time Maui resident who had an appendix removed with no issues. There may be lots of other satisfied patients out there, we just haven’t heard of any. And we certainly have not had good luck.

I share of all of this because many older people write to me, considering retiring in Maui. But the older we get, the more medical care we may need. Mike’s knee replacement is a perfect example. And he also needs the other knee done! And my rotator cuff is torn and needs surgery.

But we just aren’t going to give them another crack at us in Hawaii.

The California hospital here was extremely clean, stench – free, and so well-run and organized we couldn’t believe it. It took HOURS to get me checked out of the Hawaii hospitals. Here? 10 minutes, tops.

Lastly, our next-door neighbor on Maui just had a horrible experience at Maui Memorial and his wife is a nurse there!

Lots to think about…

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica


There was a bellower in the hospital bed across the hall from me. He
would yell Eeeyyyy! (not in the cute Arthur Fonzerelli style), and because this
is Maui, the nurse would bellow back. He’d bellow, she’d bellow. My pretty young doctor came in and said she’d only been on Maui a month but she was already moving to the hospital on Oahu. Seems she couldn’t take the “community” style of doctoring here, which is a nicer way of saying what might be considered “unprofessional” elsewhere…Like that bellowing nurse.

The reason I’m in the hospital is because of a botched (gallbladder) surgery from five years ago. Everyone told me not to have surgery on Maui, and because I hadn’t done it before, I didn’t believe them. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Three more procedures later, I thought everything was solved, but no, Here I am, back in the hospital.

I’ve lost track of the number of physicians I’ve had at Kaiser on Maui. You see, they move to Paradise thinking everything is going to be perfect, and when they find out how little they make compared to the cost of housing, or how much private school will be for their children, they leave. Then there are the ones like my young doctor in the hospital who just moved here from Chicago and simply can’t take the country-style feel of medicine on Maui.
Remember the movie “Doc Holiday?” It’s kind of like that, except there’s no
happy ending, where the doctor actually stays on.

The big joke here is that when you check into Maui Memorial Hospital, you don’t check out. You’re dead. A friend of mine is married to a radiologist on Maui and when he got blood poisoning he refused to stay in the hospital. And he cited the above quote as the reason why.

Another practice on Maui is “rent a doctors.” Doctors and nurses come here because it sounds like fun to be in Paradise for a while. And they are only temps. The question is, where did they come from? How good are they? Are they running from problems elsewhere?

I’m not saying you can’t find a perfectly fine physician to treat your cold or flu on Maui. I absolutely love my GP and my OB/GYN (both female.) You just might want to rethink the whole surgery thing. So that means getting on a plane when you feel like snot to FLY to Oahu or the mainland to have your surgery. And guess what? Kaiser frowns on the practice and won’t pay for your airfare!

Much of the basic problem with my healthcare started with the fact that I had a surgeon five years ago who hadn’t had enough practice. We’re only a population of 150,000 people (100,000 twelve years ago). How much practice can they get? Always ask how many procedures a surgeon does per year and compare it to Information online that states how much experience a doctor should have. My doctor on Maui was performing about 1/10 the number of procedures needed to stay proficient. Another thing people don’t think about when they move to Paradise…

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad it was me in the hospital, and not you?

Many, many thanks to those of you who wrote to express your
good wishes while I was in the hospital. Mahalo nui loa for your care and

A hui hou!  Mahalo for stopping by.