HONOLULU (KHON2) — Embry Health, which has been operating COVID-19 testing collection depots on Oahu and the Big Island, has been ordered to immediately cease and desist.
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, Nov. 5, said the company has been collecting specimens for COVID tests in Hawaii without a license, permit or written approval. DOH said it has made repeated attempts to work with them, but the company withdrew its application for certification on Oct. 19.
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“Testing is an important tool in our fight against the pandemic. It is critical that all individuals seeking testing in Hawaii can trust the results they receive,” Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said in a statement. “We will continue to enforce all regulations to protect Hawaii residents and we thank our government partners for their collaboration on this action.”
Embry Health testing sites included Kahala Mall, Kaimana Beach Hotel, Mauna Kea Beach Resort, Patsy T. Mink Central O‘ahu Regional Park, Wahiawa District Park and Waipahu District Park.
The City and County of Honolulu did approve permits for Embry Health to operate testing sites at several parks across Oahu. The state also said it was working with Embry Health to get proper certification to operate collecting depots in the state.
“And then quite out of the blue, they sent us an email saying that they wanted to withdraw their application as a collecting depot,” explained Keith Ridley, Hawaii Health Department Chief of Office of Healthcare Assurance. “So, it took us a bit by surprise and as a result of them halting the process, we had to take this enforcement action.”
The state said Embry Health was offering to test for the coronavirus up until Friday and conducted about 4,200 tests since late September.
The city and state both said that City and County of Honolulu permits require applicants to comply with state and federal rules; Embry Health continued adding more locations without proper certification.
In a statement from Director Hiro Toiya of the Department of Emergency Management: “The City was notified by the Hawaii Department of Health that Embry Health is not in compliance with state law regarding operating a collecting depot or collecting depots within the state. Effective immediately, Embry Health was ordered to cease and desist all COVID-19 testing operations on City property, including the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park, Bill Balfour Jr. Waipahu District Park and Wahiawa District Park.
The city permitted Embry Health to conduct COVID testing at city parks at a time when testing was in great need; however, this was not a City program or operation. It is greatly disappointing Embry Health did not follow through on its end of the permit and comply with the Hawai‘i Department of Health regulations.”
The state health department ordered Embry Health to immediately:
- Cease and desist operating all collection depots within the State of Hawai‘i;
- Pay an administrative penalty totaling $207,000;
- Notify DOH OHCA in writing of all collection depots operated by Embry Health within the State of Hawai‘i and confirm the date operations ceased; and
- Not open or operate collection depots in the State of Hawai‘i without a valid state certificate, permit or obtaining prior written approval from DOH OHCA.
Those who received testing through Embry Health should contact their physician for guidance on whether they should seek testing through another provider.
Embry Health released the following statement on DOH’s Cease and Desist Order:
“Since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, eMBRY Health has safely administered over 2.5 million COVID-19 tests. In the last several months, we have experienced an overwhelming demand for testing services across the nation in states such as Texas, Florida, and Hawaii as these communities have faced the devastating impact of the COVID-19 Delta Variant. We have a popular, easily accessible, and comprehensive COVID-19 testing services program, and we will continue to stand by our commitments to the health and safety of the people of Hawaii. In the absence of widespread public testing services throughout the state, eMBRY Health vows to work with local governing authorities to ensure that its testing program can resume as quickly, as possible.”Embry Health
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Click here to read the full Cease and Desist Order.