New emergency generator to provide peace of mind during disasters for Maui Dialysis patients

July 9, 2010, 7:38 PM HST · Updated December 7, 4:24 PM
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Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii today broke ground for a 250 kilowatt emergency generator system for the Maui Dialysis Facility, designed to assure patients throughout Maui Nui have access to life-preserving services in the event of a natural disaster.

Participants in the Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii groundbreaking for emergency generator at the Maui Dialysis Facility: Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, Sen. Shan Tsutsui, Sen. J. Kalani English, Rep. Mele Carroll, dialysis patient Bob Briggs, Mayor Charmaine Tavares, Council Member Mike Victorino, LDH Maui Operations Director Melissa Souza. Courtesy photo.

It fulfills one patient’s appeal after a severe storm battered Maui on Dec. 5, 2007, knocking down power lines and sweeping homes off foundations in the Upcountry area.

When the storm struck, Bob Briggs was undergoing dialysis, a three-hour process of clearing his blood of toxins because his kidneys no longer function.

“There was no power, no lights. Everything stopped. When there’s no power you can crank the machines. They were cranking until the power came back on,” said Briggs.

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In hopes of addressing the concern, facility Director of Operations, Melissa Souza vowed to put a plan into place.

While there are no regulatory requirements regarding emergency power for dialysis clinics, Gibbons said Liberty recognized the importance to kidney patients in isolated island communities who have no other options for services.

“This is the first time in Hawaii that a free-standing outpatient dialysis facility will have the ability to provide back-up support during a major power failure,” said Jane Gibbons, Executive Vice President of Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii.

When installed, the Caterpillar C9 Diesel Generator is expected to provide sufficient backup power for the Maui Dialysis Facility to maintain operations for two days on a full 400-gallon diesel tank.

Hawthorne Power Systems, the Oahu-based company supplying the generator, said the automatic power transfer system will start up the generator and have it online for the dialysis facility within 10 seconds of a loss of utility power.

The $400,000 system will include a structure to house the generator at the rear of the 53-station Maui Lani facility. It is Liberty Dialysis’ largest clinic in Hawaii, serving 226 patients weekly and able to accommodate the more than 320 dialysis patients in Maui County in an emergency.

“This is truly significant in that when we have a power outage in Maui County, dialysis patients can continue to receive the treatment they need,” said Maui District public health emergency preparedness planner Marc Nishimoto.

Joined by facilities director Maureen Naganuma (left), clinical manager Pattee Delima and social worker Shana Laririt, dialysis patient Bob Briggs examines plans for a 250 kilowatt generator to be installed at the Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii Maui facility this week. Briggs urged an emergency generator be installed after experiencing a power outage in a storm while under dialysis in 2007. Courtesy photo.

Joining a host of elected officials in congratulating Liberty Dialysis, Dr. James Jones, a Wailuku nephrologist, said the emergency power closes a loop in the health care safety net for patients to receive care without leaving Maui.

“This is a big deal, said Dr. Jones. “Having this facility. Soon being able to do open heart surgery at Maui Memorial and we’re doing angioplasty. We have to be an island that can take care of itself,” he said.

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