Staying healthy in Japan

Features Health - April 14th, 1989

by Elyse M. Rogers

TOKAI UNIVERSITY MAIN HOSPITAL (ISEHARA)

Almost since I began writ­ing this column in 1981, I’ve wanted to visit the main Tokai University Hospital in Isehara. Many of you know of the Tokyo hospital run by Tokai University, about which I’ve written often, which is in Yoyogi and is directed by Makoto Sakai, M.D. Dr. Sakai is not only a fine otolarngologist (treats conditions of the ear, nose and throat), but is also a good English-speaker and a nice friend of the for­eign community here.

It was Dr. Sakai who kindly arranged for me to go to Isehara and have a tour of the hospital. At Tokai Hospital in Isehara the Director of Nurs­ing, Masuyo Maeda, R.N., treated me to a wonderful video (made for their nursing staff) about the type of nursing care and their philosophy of care at the hospital. Then, Kitasaki-san (head nurse on one of the departments) took me on a very complete tour of the huge facility.

BACKGROUND ON TOKAI HOSPITAL(S)

Dr. Shigeyoshi Matsumae, founder of Tokai University, has written that it was always his dream to establish a medi­cal school on the Tokai Uni­versity campus. That dream became a reality in 1974, and the Medical School. In 1975, the Tokai University Hospital was opened in Isehara City (Kanagawa Prefecture). The huge 1,133-bed structure is a modern, sprawling facility that looks more like a posh resort than a top medical center.

There are three main build­ings (all attached) in the com­plex. One is the 10-floor hospital, the second is the medical school (complete with offices, classrooms and a wonderful medical library) and the third is a new wing that houses the emergency department. Believe me, this is an emergency department the likes of which I’ve not seen in Japan.

The emergency wing has its own entrance, operating room, intensive care unit, regular hospital beds, X-ray, etc., etc. In other words it’s a miniature hospital in itself. One of the reasons for this wing is the hospital’s proximity to the Tomei Expressway, a major route from Tokyo to cities such as Gotemba and resorts such as the Mt. Fuji area.

In fact, there is a special rampway from the highway directly to the hospital because the normal exit and entrance ramps are often so crowded with cars that a quick trip on and off by an ambulance would be impossible without the special ramp.

Much as we all hate to think of automobile accidents, it is nice to know that a good facility is close by this major highway.

According to the hospital director, Yuichiro Goto, M.D., the hospital is accomplishing its original objectives of train­ing doctors who study at To­kai University School of Medi­cine, and the Junior College of Nursing and Medical Tech­nology, of serving as the major medical center for residents of the western part of Kanagawa Prefecture, and of being a center for advanced studies in medical science.

Although the main hospital facility is now 13 years old, it remains a modern facility with excellent, spacious facili­ties and equipment. New features, such as the emergen­cy wing and an MRI (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine have been added.

DESCRIPTION & LAYOUT OF THE HOSPITAL

If the white buildings tower­ing over the Bohseidai (hill in Isehara on which the hospital is built) aren’t impressive enough, walking into the huge lobby, called Tokai Hall, should do it. The hall has a polished floor, recessed light­ing in the high ceiling above and a large seating area that takes up only a very small part of the mammoth entrance area.

The outpatient clinic recep­tion desks, consulting rooms and a dispensary flank the walls of the wide open area. Although most patients enter the hospital with a bit of trepidation, I guarantee this breath-taking entry way will help a bit to relax and con­sole.  There is a large lighted sign (in English as well as Japanese) listing the location of all 18 departments and many of the clinic department doors have English language signs as well. I’d be remiss, however, if I led you to believe this is a multi-lingual hospital; practically speaking it is Japanese-only spoken here.

But since most foreigners who go to Tokai Hospital at Isehara come on the recommendation (and under the continuing care of) one of the physicians at Tokai Hospital in Tokyo, or are Japanese speakers, the language problem is usually not significant.

Basically, each floor has three wings (the fourth wing is part of the medical school build­ing), and each one “spokes” out from the main central hull. The nursing station is set up at the end nearest the central hall, with patient rooms lining both sides of the wing, and the treatment and utility rooms in the middle.

This is very pleasant, as it allows a view from almost all patient rooms. In fact, most of the windows overlook some greenery and many lucky pa­tients have a view of Oyama, the large mountain that do­minates the area.

The hospital has 14 operat­ing rooms, one of which is set up to provide a strict sterile environment for opera­tions requiring high sterility such as the transplantation of artificial joints. It’s the first hospital in Japan to provide such a facility. At the hospital they perform more than 5.000 surgical procedures each year (including those done in the emergency wing operating room).

There’s also a well-equip­ped ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and CCU (Cardiac Care Unit), which has 12 beds and 19 nurses! A NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for babies needing special care completes the intensive care units in the hospital. But there is also a special 10th floor germ-free and dust-free ward, which has been specially constructed (using technologies developed by the U.S. NASA Apollo Project) to provide a sterile sickroom.

What makes this area uni­que is that the patient has freedom of movement within the room: most conventional sterile rooms place restrictions on the patient’s activities. These rooms are used for the open treatment of burns, post operative treatment of kidney transplant patients.

All the other usual depart­ments you’d expect to find in a large hospital are included within the complex, such as obstetrics, gynecology, endoscopy, X-ray (with two CT scanners), and a complete laboratory.

One special new piece of equipment I should mention is the Magnetic Resonance Imag­ing (MRI) machine. I’ve men­tioned this amazing new X-ray type of equipment that actually uses radio-frequency electro­magnetic waves instead of X-rays.

Housed in its own newly-added space (the machine takes a lot of room because the walls must be thick to control the magnetic forces), it pro­vides state-of-the-art, non­invasive diagnostic imaging. The MRI is especially useful for soft-tissue imaging that is difficult to do with conven­tional X-ray machines.

One other space-age piece of equipment is the Hyperbaric Treatment chamber. This chamber can provide different types of controlled artificial environments that are being used to treat some kinds of diseases.

Most of the usual in­patient rooms are six-bed wards, but there are some private rooms. As in most hospitals, there is an extra charge for the private rooms, running from ¥20,000 lo ¥50,000 extra per day depending on whether you want a simple small private room with bath or a two-room suite complete with lounging chairs.

STAFF &  PATIENT STATISTICS

As you might imagine, it takes a big staff of profession­als to run this large hospital. There are 593 doctors, more than 700 nurses to provide care for the average of 940 in-patients per day, and for the 1,500 or so daily out patients. (Amazingly, that add up to serving more than 400,000 patients per year id the out-patient department!)

As I mentioned before, un­less you are Japanese-speaking or have a special need for the services this large hospital provides, you’d probably be more comfortable in the To­kyo Tokai Hospital in Yoyogi (see addendum to this column below).

Tokai University Hospital, Bohseidai, Isehara, Kanagawa 259-11. Telephone (0463) 93-1121.

TOKYO TOKAI UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL

Although I’ve profiled this modern hospital in Yoyogi before, I’d like to update you on a few new concepts and at equipment at this in-town hospital.

  1. The most exciting new piece of  equipment is the brand new EHL (electro hydraulic lithotripsy) machine they had installed (at a staggering cost of ¥1,080 million) in the spring of 1988. Almost 50 patients have been treated with this non-surgical technique for kidney stones.
  2. They have a newsletter (in Japanese only at this point —I’m trying to push for an English language version soon), that those of you who read Japanese might like to receive. All you have to do is “join” their Health Salon which is, believe it or not, totally free. If you’re interested, there arc forms to fill out at the front desk in the outpatient clinic. Not only does the newsletter include topics related to medi­cal news at the hospital, but patients’ questions are all featured with answers by the-staff.
  3. Last, but certainly not least, congratulations are in order for the big five-year Happy Birthday for Tokai University Hospital in Tokyo that occurred last December. Tokai in Tokyo has been a fine hospital addition for foreigner; here, offering a wide range of services in a modern, convenient location. I’m sure you’ll join with me in wishing Dr. Sakai and the entire staff omedeto gozaimashita along with our best wishes for their continuing success.

Tokai University Hospital, Tokyo, 1-2-5 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151. Phone 370-2321.