HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first wave of nurses has arrived on Oahu after the state asked the Federal Emergency Response Agency and the Federal Health and Human Services Department for help.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

About 16 nurses started work on Sept. 8, split between intensive care units at Queen’s Medical Center and Kuakini Hospital after being cleared with COVID tests and orientation.

Approximately 12 more arrive later in the week, and will work in the islands for about 14 days each.

The nurses are arriving as the COVID influx at hospitals has eased a bit in recent days.

Hilton Raethel, the President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, shared his thoughts with KHON2.

 “The hospital census has come a little bit off the peak however we are still operating at a stretched staffing capacity on a number of facilities, so the situation is a little mixed but it is not as severe as it has been,” Raethel said. “We are still very concerned about the impact from the infections from 7-10 days ago.”

 The healthcare association says a much larger contingent of about 200 civilian surge staff could start in late September and work for about 60 days, under a cares-act-funded state program that is still in the works.

Meanwhile, hundreds of applicants to a local nurse graduate recruitment have been referred to hospitals, nursing homes, care homes and hospice for emergency hires.

Latest Stories on KHON2