Although nonemergency babies on Lanai are delivered off-island, prenatal care services are available at the Lana'i Community Health Center.
A story on Page A3 on Aug. 10 about the blessing of the Lanai Community Hospital's emergency room and lab renovation gave the impression that all pregnant women have to leave the island to obtain prenatal services.
In fact, that might be the perception of some on the island because Straub Lanai, which is contracted to provide emergency room and hospital services, does not provide prenatal services, said Diana Shaw, executive director of the Lana'i Community Health Center.
But the Lanai community health facility has been providing prenatal care for about two years. There currently are 10 women who receive prenatal care through the center, she said.
The community health center currently is working to improve its prenatal services to attract more of the 50 or so women who give birth on Lanai each year, Shaw said.
"We want to capture all of the patients, and we have the capacity to do that," she said.
The center's prenatal program "can save some money, time and risk," Shaw added, noting that women who are working do not have to take time off to travel to another island.
Two years ago, the center created an arrangement with Maui Medical Group, using a grant from the March of Dimes, to provide services to pregnant women at the center. The downside of this arrangement is that all births through the program have to be performed at Maui Memorial Medical Center, she said.
Some women prefer to have their babies on Oahu, she said, noting that nonemergency births occur off Lanai. The location of the birth is based mainly on which island the woman has family, who can provide support and accommodations for the off-island birth.
In an effort to expand its reach to Oahu, the center has established a relationship with the University of Hawaii obstetrics department, Shaw said. Women who are under the care of UH doctors may have their babies at Oahu hospitals at which the physicians have admitting privileges. This includes Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, The Queen's Medical Center and Straub Clinic & Hospital.
Shaw added that the center is currently working on establishing a direct relationship with Kapiolani.
Lanai women may use other doctors than those at UH, but the center would need to work out arrangements with the medical facility and doctor, Shaw said.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Shaw said she believes that there is a 50-50 split of women who come to Maui or go to Oahu to give birth.
Another major development has been the training of medical provider Aileen Duran, an advanced practice registered nurse with prescription privileges. She is now qualified to provide pre- and post-natal services to women, Shaw said.
The center has a fetal stress monitor and is in the process of purchasing handheld ultrasound equipment, she said. There also are plans to develop a telemedicine program through which women may interact with their doctors.
"While our program cannot offer delivery on Lanai, we have reduced and are working toward eliminating routine off-island travel for these patients," Shaw said.
* Lee Imada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.