Bill would fund 2nd cardiac care lab at Hilo medical center

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A bill in the Hawaii state Senate would appropriate $3.5 million for additional cardiac care at Hilo Medical Center, officials said.

The bill would provide general revenue funds in the 2020-21 fiscal year for a second catheterization laboratory at the Big Island hospital, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.

The funding would be used to purchase equipment and remodel space adjacent to the hospital's current lab, Regional Imaging Administrator Lauri Redus said

The existing suite is also used for interventional radiology and vascular surgery cases, Redus said.

“It will establish a secondary cath lab suite for us so that we have more availability to take care of patients,” Redus said. “We only have one suite right now so we can only take care of one cardiac patient at a time.”

Elective procedures have to be done during normal business hours, which can delay care if an emergency occurs, cardiologist Jamison Wyatt said.

A second lab is also important for heart attack patients because the lack of a good backup system limits the ability of doctors to treat patients if the original lab is out of order, Wyatt said.

"It’s nice to have two different lab capabilities, so if one is inoperable, you can move into another one,” Wyatt said.

Hilo Medical Center sought additional funding for the cardiac program during the 2019 legislative session, but the bill stalled in the final stages of the legislative process.

Democratic state Sen. Kai Kahele, who introduced the new bill, said it is one of his legislative priorities this year.

It is “clear that this is something we need in our community,” Kahele said.