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Q: I heard that if you have a heart attack on Maui you have to be flown to a hospital in Honolulu. Is that true? Doesn't that take too much time?

Eight years ago, that was the case. Maui was sending 30 to 40 heart patients to Honolulu each month for urgent and emergent cardiac procedures. And you're right, it wasn't ideal. Not only are there risks to flying patients, it made it hard to meet national guidelines of treating heart attacks within a 90-minute window.

That's why we started a program at Maui Memorial Medical Center to treat heart attacks here on the island. Before 2010, local doctors were only able to diagnose a heart attack and treat it with medication. But since we started the program, we're now able to clear blockages in patients' arteries using stents and balloons—minimally invasive procedures that involve threading a catheter into the body through an artery in the wrist or groin. And we also work closely with Maui Memorial Medical Center's two heart surgeons in cases where patients need more serious interventions, such as bypass surgery.

Treating heart attacks on Maui means patients get the help they need much sooner—and that has the potential to save lives.