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Maui Health Foundation Raises Over $770,000 for an American Heart Association Certified Chest Pain Center on Maui

Foundation news | Friday, February 21, 2020

Maui Health Foundation’s annual fundraiser “An Evening at Spago” on January 31 raised more than $770,000 to assist in funding Hawaii’s very first American Heart Association (AHA) Certified Chest Pain Center at Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC).

It was an electric night filled with delicious food, beautiful ambiance, and a very inspiring group of almost 90 guests, including members of Maui Health Foundation’s Hospital Hui. The event was generously underwritten for the 9th year in a row by Wolfgang Puck and Spago Maui, and featured a four-course dinner, live auction, and fund-a-need paddle raise.

Melinda Sweany, Maui Health Chief Development Officer, took the stage early in the evening to thank the top event sponsors. She thanked Hospital Hui members for their partnership in bringing big medicine to Maui. “We are so grateful for your ongoing commitment to advancing healthcare in our community,” she said.

Maui Health CEO Mike Rembis provided an update on the Maui Health hospitals, new Maui physicians, and proudly shared Maui Memorial Medical Center’s most recent major achievement – earning 4-stars from Medicare’s Hospital Compare. The nationally recognized rating system is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative and was created in collaboration with organizations that represent consumers, hospitals, doctors, and other health care agencies, to help consumers review and compare the quality of health care at Medicare-certified hospitals.

“This is a tremendous achievement,” said Rembis. “To be given a 4 out of 5 stars rating in only 2 ½ years since we transferred from a state-managed hospital system to Maui Health, a Kaiser affiliate health care system.”

He followed with an announcement about plans to open an American Heart Association Certified Chest Pain Center at MMMC. “Each of you here have an opportunity to make a difference,” he said.

Maui’s Certified Chest Pain Center will be the first in the State of Hawaii. Dr. Lee Weiss, Medical Director and Chairman of MMMC’s Emergency Department, explained to the group that 14-18 patients a day come to the presenting with chest or heart pain, and that “a center like this is critical for saving lives.”

“With our surgeons, cardiologists, and interventional cardiologists like Dr. Colin Lee and his team, we are truly standing on the shoulders of greatness,” he said. “We will be leveraging the extraordinary talents of our physicians and staff to provide extraordinary care to our community.”

A Chest Pain Center accreditation by the AHA is an elite mark of excellence for the care of acute coronary syndrome patients. A hospital with an accredited Chest Pain Center meets or exceeds quality-of-care measures for treating acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients across the continuum of care - from the onset of the patient’s symptoms through discharge from the hospital. Accredited Chest Pain Centers undergo a rigorous evaluation process by the AHA based on their ability to asses, diagnose, and treat patients quickly and effectively.

The purpose of a Chest Pain Center is to significantly reduce the time it takes for a patient experiencing symptoms of a possible heart attack to see a physician, thus reducing the time to treatment during the critical early stages, when treatments are most effective in preserving the heart muscle. It also provides a specialized observation setting in which physicians are better able to monitor patients when it is not clear whether they are having a coronary event. Such observation helps ensure that patients are not sent home too early, or needlessly admitted to the hospital.

Dr. Weiss, who has experience in opening and running several AHA Certified Chest Pain Centers in California, said that they plan on opening Maui’s center in 18-24 months, once they have the funding. He estimated the costs to build the facility at about $1.5 million and Mike Rembis challenged the Foundation to raise half of that.

“We owe it to our community,” Weiss said. “We can make it great together, we can’t make it great apart.”

Later that evening, Dr. Weiss demonstrated his commitment to the Chest Pain Center and to the community of Maui, when he was the first to raise his paddle to donate to the project. He received a heartfelt standing ovation from everyone in the room. The special moment helped to kick off an exciting and emotionally charged momentum for the fund-a-need portion of the night that alone raised over $550,000. Through ticket sales, live auction, and Fund-A-Need donations, the event raised over $770,000 - more than half of what is needed to fund the Chest Pain Center.

“Everyone on this island, residents and visitors alike, deserve access to the best, state-of-the-art medical care. We thank all of you here tonight for being a part of advancing healthcare on Maui,” said Tamar Goodfellow and Karen Williams, Maui Health Foundation’s President and Vice President, as they addressed the group at the end of the night.

For more information on Maui Health Foundation’s Hospital Hui program, or how you can make a donation, please contact the Foundation office at (808) 242-2630.

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