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Queen's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services moved into a new space in the Physicians Office Building (POB) III, suite 300. The new space checks in at 3,044 square feet, but the therapists describe it best by cheerfully enthusing, "It's way better--it's big and it's bright!" Manager Lisa Fuchigami embellished on their excitement: "We're using our space differently now. We are moving toward a focus on sports and orthopedic care, so we have more treatment rooms, as well as office space for a doctor and this nice, large gym area."

The "gym" is a big room that contains all of the exercise machines, weights, and other equipment used by patients and their therapists. With two walls of floor to ceiling glass windows, the gym has an uplifting and welcoming ambiance conducive to healing and therapy. All of Queen's practitioners are Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPT), which is a rarity among most local physical therapy practices and something worth mentioning. The "D" distinction denotes a post baccalaureate three- to four-year degree achieved through the successful completion of a professional doctorate program. The advanced degree was created to better meet the needs of the health care environment. Patients expect more and the profession and schools rose to meet that challenge.


In addition to more space and a better view, the new office has  convenient parking. "The [POB III] parking garage Level J opens directly onto our floor," Fuchigami pointed out. "That's a major plus if you are hobbling in here on crutches or in a wheel chair." Appointments are usually made through physician referrals. Queen's Outpatient Rehab Services has been around for some time now, but it is still considered almost a hidden gem. "Some people just don't realize we even exist right here at The Queen's Medical Center campus," say the therapists. The location is especially convenient for employees or patients with doctors in any of the POBs. The office number is 808.691.4449. Queen's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services offers Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Language Pathology. Speech Therapy is still located in the POB II, Suite B1. 


Photo captions:

1. Top Photo: (l-r) Della Magno, DPT, OCS (Orthopedic Certified Specialist), ATC (Certified Athletic Trainer); Kari Rivera, DPT, OCS; Brooke Nakamura, OTR; Blaise Seto-Mook, DPT; Alika Kuamoo, DPT.

2. Blaise Seto-Mook, DPT in the Outpatient Rehab "gym."

Christian Spies, MD, answers questions from the mediaActor and singer Jim Nabors was the fifth of six patients to have a new non-surgical heart valve device implanted at The Queen’s Medical Center. Queen’s cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons were the first in Hawai‘i to perform the procedure to treat patients with failing aortic heart valves. The procedure allows patients to be treated without open heart surgery.

Called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), Queen’s is the first and only hospital in Hawai’i to offer the less invasive procedure to inoperable patients with severe, symptomatic aortic stenosis, a serious condition caused by the narrowing of the heart valve. Patients are generally older with multiple medical conditions which can put people at very high risk if traditional open heart surgery is performed. Approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. live with significant aortic stenosis, which often develops into debilitating symptoms that can affect everyday activities such as walking short distances or climbing stairs. Aortic stenosis occurs when the aortic valve does not properly open and close, which restricts blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. This increases pressure within the heart and causes heart muscles to weaken, and the risk of heart failure is increased. Symptoms of the disease can include extreme fatigue, dizziness, chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath during activity, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and fainting.

 “TAVR is truly transformational as it provides a viable treatment option to patients who could not withstand conventional surgery due to age or serious medical conditions,” said Christian Spies, MD, Medical Director of Structural Heart Interventions, Cardiac Invasive Services and Interventional Cardiologist at The Queen’s Medical Center. “For patients who once had no real treatment option, TAVR is now not only able to extend lives, but also substantially improve quality of life.”

Suffering with aortic stenosis for four years, Nabors was getting progressively weaker, was tired all the time, and was recently spending almost all day in bed. After the procedure, he noticed that his thinking is clearer in addition to feeling much better. “Each procedure went very well,” said Dr. Spies. “Patients were discharged within two to six days post-TAVR.” All six patients were back on their feet and able to walk within one day of the procedure.

Dr. Spies and Jeffrey Lau, MD, Chief of the Department of Cardiovascular Diseases and Cardiothoracic Surgeon, worked with a multidisciplinary team of specialists in performing the TAVR procedure on Nabors on May 29, 2012. “It starts in our Valve Clinic where patients get jointly evaluated by an interventional cardiologist, cardiothoracic surgeon and nurse practitioner,” said Dr. Spies. “Before and after the procedure, we also work collaboratively with other specialists, including cardiac anesthesiologists, non-invasive cardiologists, radiologists, geriatricians, intensivists, nurses, operating room and cardiac catheterization laboratory staff, and other professionals to ensure optimal and comprehensive care of the patient.”

TAVR procedures are performed in Queen’s new, hybrid cardiac catheterization room. The hybrid room combines the latest features of a modern operating room with the technology of a cardiac catheterization laboratory, including three-dimensional imaging capabilities. To perform a TAVR procedure, a catheter is inserted from an incision through the patient’s femoral artery in the thigh. A SAPIEN heart valve from Edwards Lifesciences is attached to the catheter and maneuvered into place over the calcified narrowed leaflets of the patient’s own heart valve. The SAPIEN valve is then deployed by inflating a balloon and begins working immediately, restoring normal blood flow. The heart itself requires no recovery from the procedure, and once the device is deployed, blood flow is unobstructed and the heart’s workload is reduced immediately. The only recovery is from the anesthesia and the incision in the groin.

Currently restricted to only select centers across the U.S., use of the new technology requires a specialized team like the Queen’s Heart team, which has been developed over the past two years. Although TAVR is restricted to inoperable patients, the FDA is considering expanding it to aortic stenosis patients who have a high risk for surgery.

Patients interested in TAVR can be evaluated at the Valve Clinic of The Queen’s Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease. Patients will be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team to determine if TAVR is feasible. For more information, call 808.691.8808, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.qhpp.com.


Photo captions:

1. Christian Spies, MD, answers questions from the media at a press conference held at Queen’s.

2. Jim Nabors examines a sample SAPIEN heart valve used in his TAVR procedure.

Jeffrey Lau, MD, Cathy Young, RN, and Christian Spies, MDThe Queen's Medical Center has been selected as the first and only hospital in Hawai’i to offer a new non-surgical treatment for aortic stenosis, or the narrowing of the heart valves. The treatment will be available to select patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on November 2, 2011, the new treatment allows replacement of the aortic heart valve via a catheter inserted into an artery in the groin. The minimally invasive procedure, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which uses the SAPIEN heart valve from Edwards Lifesciences, has been approved at only a limited number of selected medical centers across the nation. As a selected site, Queen's Heart has also partnered with other Hawai’i cardiac surgeons and cardiologists to form the Pacific Valve Consortium, which will help identify and treat Hawai’i patients who can benefit from TAVR. "Queen's Heart, in collaboration with the Pacific Valve Consortium, is among the first in the nation chosen to use this new technology outside of earlier research trials," said Art Ushijima, QHS/QMC President.

Once the symptoms of aortic stenosis develop, the prognosis for a patient is poor, and the probability of death within two years is greater than 50%. Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis usually include chest pain, fainting, and shortness of breath. Patients can also experience fatigue, heart palpitations, and other symptoms, and the heart-weakening effects of the disease often leads to heart failure. With an aging population, over 100,000 people in the United States live with significant aortic stenosis. However, surgery is not an options for a large group of these patients because they are too fragile for open heart surgery. In Hawai’i, 400 to 500 people a year are diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis.

Illustration of valve deploymentUse of the new technology requires a highly specialized and specific team, such as the Queen's Heart Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease at The Queen's Medical Center and the Pacific Valve Consortium, which consists of a network of cardiovascular surgeons, non-invasive cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, radiologists, and nurse practitioners. "For the past two years, cardiac surgeons and cardiologists at Queen's Heart have been teaming up to bring this new technology to the islands," said Cathy Young, Vice President of Cardiac, Medicine, and Geriatrics at Queen's. "Thanks to their diligent efforts, and with the establishment of the Pacific Valve Consortium, we now have an alternative in Hawai’i to treat more patients who may be too ill to receive standard surgical valve replacement therapy."

"TAVR is truly transformational, as this technology will change the way we practice cardiovascular medicine and surgery in the United States," said Christian Spies, MD, Medical Director of Cardiac Invasive Labs and Interventional Cardiologist at Queen's. "For patients who are not surgical candidates, TAVR can substantially improve their health status, quality of life and improve mortality compared to standard therapy."

Patients will be evaluated at the Valve Clinic of the Queen's Heart Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease by a multi-disciplinary team to determine if TAVR is feasible. For more information, call 808.691.8808, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.qhpp.com.

Photo caption:
Jeffrey Lau, MD, Cathy Young, RN, and Christian Spies, MD.

The Queen's Transplant Center TeamFor some people, getting an organ transplant within a few weeks could mean the difference between life and death. Such was the case with a Hawai’i Medical Center patient who needed a liver transplant late last year. In November of 2011, he became the last patient to get a transplant before both HMC hospitals closed their doors, ending a program begun by St. Francis Medical Center over four decades ago. 

But there were others on the list. Transplant surgeon Linda Wong, MD, and other transplant staff joined with the staff of The Queen's Medical Center to rebuild the organ transplant program at Queen's in 82 days. "This is about a team of people, experienced and inexperienced in transplantation, coming together to rebuild a transplant program for a community," said Dr. Wong. "When Queen's stepped up to carry on the organ transplantation program in Hawai’i, it ushered in a new era in transplant services for the state." 

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the national approval organization for organ transplantation, approved Queen's application to perform liver transplants on January 25, 2012. Requests to perform kidney, pancreas, and heart transplants are still under review by UNOS. Queen's has hired 16 employees to support the Queen's Transplant Center. A celebration was held at Queen's—"a celebration of life and second chances with the gift of life," as Dr. Wong put it.

 A 58-year-old man was on list. Without an organ transplant center in Hawai’i, he would have had to sell his house, quit his job, and move to the mainland. He knew that the program was being rebuilt at Queen's and felt confident that it would open in time. A week later, it did, and on March 8, he became Queen's first organ transplant patient. A short time later, Queen's performed a second liver transplant. "Queen's got a real good staff," said the patient. "They really take care of you. I got a second chance at life and I am grateful that Queen's stepped up." Dr. Wong performed the two liver transplantation surgeries at Queen's along with Makoto Ogihara, MD, and Hiroji Noguchi, MD.

Janie Lee, RN, Transplant Patient Care Coordinator, explained that after transplantation surgery, patients typically spend seven to nine days in the hospital and initially have to take up to 15 different medications. In a year, half of those may be discontinued, but patients will have to take two of them for the rest of their lives. Because transplant patients are more susceptible to infections, they must forever by aware of others who may be sick, especially in the first few months. "We do a lot of education on how to take care of their livers," she says, "and quiz them before they leave [the hospital]. We see them in the clinic for the rest of their lives."

 "We truly appreciate the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Wong and her team to launch this program here at Queen's," said Art Ushijima, QHS/QMC President. "The hard work and dedication that everyone…has displayed in support of the needs of these patients is inspirational."

Photo caption:
The Queen's Transplant Center Team

The Queen's Medical Center O’ahu WestThe Queen’s Health Systems, corporate parent of The Queen’s Medical Center, has officially acquired the former Hawai’i Medical Center (HMC) West campus from St. Francis Health Care System of Hawai’i. Both parties signed closing documents that enable Queen’s to acquire and open the former HMC West campus. This is the final step in the real estate transaction. The campus will be named The Queen’s Medical Center–West O’ahu. Queen’s plans to open the hospital in early 2014.

 St. Francis Health Care System had sold its East (Liliha) and West campuses to Hawai’i Medical Center in January 2007, but the new owners subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization twice—the first time in August 2008, and again in June 2011—then began to completely wind down hospital operations at the Liliha and West campuses, starting with the closure of its emergency departments. The two HMC hospitals closed at the end of 2011. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Faris ordered the return of the hospital assets of the former Hawai’i Medical Center to St. Francis Health Care System of Hawai’i and its affiliates On April 25, 2012. The assets included properties and equipment at both the East (Liliha) and West campuses of the former HMC.

The Queen's Medical Center O’ahu West“Transferring the ownership of the West O’ahu hospital assets to Queen’s is an important milestone for St. Francis,” said Jerry Correa, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Francis Health Care System of Hawai’i. “We recognize the critical need to reopen hospital and emergency services in West O’ahu. We believe Queen’s solid track record of quality care and thorough understanding of Hawaii’s culture and the health needs of the local community make it ideally suited to operate the West Hospital. We have a deep appreciation for their mission.” St. Francis Health Care System will keep the East (Liliha) campus and continue to operate its other non-hospital based services, including hospice care in people’s homes island-wide, at nursing homes, and its own inpatient hospice centers in Nuuanu and the West O’ahu campus; home health on O’ahu and Kauai; bathing and personal grooming services; and other health care services.

“The Queen’s Medical Center is looking forward to working together with the West O’ahu community to open the campus as The Queen’s Medical Center–West O’ahu …,” said Art Ushijima, QHS/QMC President. “We are committed to being good partners and good neighbors [in building] a health care facility the [community] will be proud to support and utilize.” Recalling Queen’s founding in 1859 by Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV, Art noted that Queen’s has served its mission of providing quality health care services for over 153 years. “We look forward to serving the people of West O’ahu with the same standard of excellence that has been the foundation of our founders’ values and vision,” he said.

The acquisition of the land and facilities along with planned improvements will exceed $70 million. Major improvements at The Queen’s Medical Center–West O’ahu campus will include an expansion and modernization of emergency, surgical, and imaging services. Further terms of the agreement are confidential.

For future updates about the The Queen’s Medical Center–West O’ahu campus, please visit www.queens.org. The public is also invited to call The Queen’s Medical Center–West O’ahu Infoline at 808.691.5048 for inquiries and updates.

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