Healthcare on an island

When you live on an island with population of less than 150,000 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it's obviously not like you are living in a big city. Or a metropolitan area.

Generally our health care is ok - we have the basic doctors that we need and we have a hospital. I like to think our medical professionals do their best. We have several friends who are doctors, one a specialist, and I know they work long hard hours and are completely committed to their patients. But if we need to see a specialist, it can get complicated. It seems there isn't enough work to keep many specialists on Maui full-time. Our insurance company flies certain specialists in from Oahu (the most populated island) several days a month, but sometimes we need to fly to the specialist.

This happened today. Last week we were booked for a specialist appointment at the insurance company's hospital on Oahu (population over 1 million). We then called the insurance company's travel department, they booked us on flights to Oahu, set us up with the shuttle from Honolulu Airport to the hospital and return. Sure, it's inconvenient, but it could be worse - at least we don't have to worry about travel arrangements.

In fact, I must say, it's pretty glamorous when you get to fly to your doctor's office. No comparison to when we used to live in BC's Fraser Valley and drove two hours through heavy traffic into Vancouver to see a specialist.

a regional Hawaiian Airlines flight waiting to fly to one of the neighbor islands

The travel department was kind and asked when we wanted to return home - they cover the flight and shuttle to and from the hospital, but realize Maui residents may want to do some shopping or visit friends and relatives while on the neighbor island. So we scheduled a late flight and after our medical appointment took a cab down the five lane highway into downtown Honolulu and checked out Ala Moana shopping center. Yes, we do miss the variety of shops available in more populated centers. I wish we'd had more time to browse and shop. But we did hit up the Lego store and the Lupicia store - two shops we definitely don't have on Maui. Then we took public transport back to the airport, another novelty for us Maui residents. Sure we have public transportation on Maui - but with parking readily available and buses only running once an hour, it's often not that convenient.

It was fun going to Oahu for a day trip. It was even better coming back home to Maui. When we left Maui, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. Honolulu by contrast seemed rather grey with lots of concrete and so many people and cars. Returning back across the green sugar cane fields to Kahului airport was awesome. I even enjoyed the slow pace of the two lane each direction highway back into Kihei. What a nice change from the 5 lane Nimitz highway on Oahu! Those who have lived on Maui all their life will tell you how it's changed in the past thirty, forty years. I'm sure it has. But I'm glad it hasn't become Oahu.

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