The People Of Wilcox

Elvenia and LaPenta in one of the rooms at the Women’s Center at Wilcox Memorial Hospital

Elvenia and LaPenta in one of the rooms at the Women’s Center at Wilcox Memorial Hospital

Wilcox Memorial Hospital (WMH) is celebrating its 75th year of service to the community.

“It’s a huge accomplishment,” says Jaeda Elvenia, RN, MSN and manager of WMH. “I think 75 years of caring for Kauai’s people is a testament to Wilcox being there for everyone, and I’d like to see us go for another 75 years and more.”

The hospital’s endurance also is a testament to the entire community.

“To have longevity, it requires a combined effort from everybody,” says Sam LaPenta, Radiology manager.

Elvenia and LaPenta have no doubt that they not only serve an outstanding community, but they quite literally have some of the best employees in the nation. WMH’s staff rates in the 97th percentile of employee engagement, and also is rated in the nation’s top 15 percent as far as “Outstanding Patient Experience” is concerned.

“We have the best employees ever,” says Elvenia, who oversees the third, fourth and mother-baby floors. “We love what we do.”

Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s Infusion Center

Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s Infusion Center

The Kauai native receives proof of this on a daily basis.

“I get to meet all the patients and I get to hear their experiences, and I get to hear from them the love that they’re getting from the staff,” she says. “It’s because they love what they do, and the patients always tell me that it shows.”

Elvenia always has felt the staff at Wilcox was special ever since, as a child, she started visiting the hospital with her mother. While waiting for her mother to visit patients, Elvenia recalls admiring the nurses and doctors she saw traveling up the elevators to the top floors. She made a commitment at an early age to one day do the same.

“That was my life’s goal. I wanted to go up those elevators and work on those floors,” she says.

The Kauai High School graduate attended Kauai Community College and achieved bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. By age 23, she was hired as a staff nurse at WMH and has been working for the hospital ever since.

A newcomer in comparison, LaPenta began working at WMH in 2011, but his commitment is just as strong. The Pennsylvania native served as director of radiology in his home state before moving to the island and acquiring his current job at WMH. He appreciates the warmth of kamaaina, which is abruptly different from the prevailing personalities he experienced on the East Coast.

“There’s a much tighter, caring feel,” he says. “That feeling of ohana, it’s so present here you can’t escape it.”

Elvenia scans the barcode of a patient to ensure they have received the proper medication

Elvenia scans the barcode of a patient to ensure they have received the proper medication

The same feeling of community is exemplified in many of the hospital’s updated facilities, such as the new Women’s Center, which was designed in a spa-like fashion with fruit-infused water and robes to lounge in while ladies comfortably await mammography or bone-density tests. The center even has two new ultrasound machines that were implemented in recent weeks.

“It’s phenomenal,” says LaPenta, who notes that WMH is the first in the nation to receive the platform in this technology. “We’ve been given, really, a blessing here and the opportunity to provide the best care with technology that’s presented to it. A lot of facilities don’t come close to having what we have here at Wilcox.”

He is just as excited about the renovations to the imaging center as well as the new 325 CT scanner that takes X-rays in less than one second.

Elvenia also is delighted by the updates in her departments, including the improved mother-and-baby rooms.

“I just love the way all the colors came together,” she says regarding the freshly painted walls.

All of the newly acquired equipment and recent renovations were made possible by the community and WMH’s partnership with Hawaii Pacific Health.

LaPenta shows off one of the new CT scanner acquired by the radiology department recently

LaPenta shows off one of the new CT scanner acquired by the radiology department recently

“I’m not sure that we would have survived to today’s time if it hadn’t been for being a part of Hawaii Pacific Health,” says Elvenia. “The fact is, health care is expensive. While you want to give the same amount of care and you want to be able to provide, it’s challenging because you know that you’re not meeting budget and you’re not being able to meet your fiscal guidelines. But it shouldn’t matter; the patients should be in bed and experience the care without having the stress of fiscal responsibility.”

She doesn’t yet have an opinion of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t know what to think about the new health care because I don’t think that Congress knows what to think,” she jokes.

Regardless of the transitions in health care that inevitably will occur over the ensuing years, WMH staff members like LaPenta and Elvenia will continue to provide top-notch care.

“It’s always been about family,” says Elvinia. “It’s always been people taking care of people, people taking care of each other.”

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