Kazuya Akimoto painting
(Editor’s note: A shorter version of this commentary appears in the Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 edition of the Big Island Weekly.)
By Tiffany Edwards Hunt
I am hapai (pregnant) with my second child. I had my first child at the Waimea Women’s Center. I was hopeful that, with this pregnancy, I could avoid the hour-and-a-half commute to Waimea, by getting the midwifery care that I desire at Pahoa Women’s Center, which is operated by the Bay Clinic Family Health Center.Â All too soon I learned that the prenatal care in Pahoa is limited and ultimately results in a hand-off to an ob-gyn at the Hilo office of the Bay Clinic.Â Let me give you the run-down of my interaction with Dr. Eric Helms, who is fresh off the jet from Florida.
After my initial visit with certified nurse midwife Roxanne Estes at Pahoa Women’s Center,Â I was scheduled to meet with Helms on July 14, 2010. A week before that scheduled visit, pain in my lower left pelvis area led me into the Pahoa Women’s Center again.
I hoped for an ultrasound to relieve anxiety that I could possibly have a tubal pregnancy. Â As it turns out, a $25,000 ultrasound machine I understand is supposed to be at the Pahoa Women’s Center is not there. Â It is located in Helms’ office in Hilo.Â ButÂ Helms’s schedule was too full to see me before July 14. Â I drove myself to the Hilo Medical Center emergency room (ER) and, five and a half hours and an ultrasound later, was assured my fetus is safe and sound in the womb, but I have an ovarian cyst. Â Pressed for details, the ER doctor said I would have to consult with my ob-gyn.Â Enter Helms.
The day of my scheduled appointment with Helms, driving from rural Puna into Hilo, I had trouble finding the new office of the Bay Clinic and ended up being 10 minutes late for my appointment. Â The nurse tried to reschedule, but I was determined to see Helms and discuss the results of my ER visit.Â I waited for nearly two hours and, thanks to my persistence, I ultimately saw Helms.
When conversing with him, Â I shared that I am a “cheerleader for midwives.” Â Â I told him my plans to meet the new Hilo Medical Center medical director, Dr. Ted Peskin, later in the week to see about incorporating some of the successes in Waimea in Hilo.Â Helms prefaced with, he didn’t want to be discouraging, before speculating that it would be “five to 10 years” before midwives are allowed access to the Hilo Medical Center. He then shared with me that if he is to be my ob-gyn for labor and delivery at the Hilo Medical Center, I would not be permitted to have a midwife present. Â Read the rest of this entry »