Hawaii hospitals fear COVID spike following Labor Day weekend


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Health officials say any rise in hospitalizations usually takes 10 to 14 days after a spike in COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says there are 438 hospitalizations. Some facilities are worried about what the numbers will look like following the Labor Day weekend.

“We went into this Labor Day with more critical patients in the hospital than we’ve seen ever really,” said Elena Cabatu, Hilo Medical Center director of public affairs. “So that was a great concern, and it remains great concern for us throughout the weekend and into this Monday.”

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Hilo Medical Center currently has 42 COVID patients, four in the ICU and on ventilators. The facility is already operating beyond capacity, and it is preparing for a potential spike.

“We’ve been preparing over the last few weeks on creating more beds and bringing in more staff,” said Cabatu. “Thank goodness we have FEMA funded personnel that have come in to help us. It is greatly appreciated.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii Pacific Health says Pali Momi and Straub are being inundated. Straub is already utilizing its triage tent.

Now, long-term care facilities are assisting by opening up spaces for COVID patients.

“I can tell you that this is one less bed that will be occupied in an acute facility,” said Sean Sanada, HI Health Systems Corp. chief administrative officer. “We have a capacity of up to 10 actually at Leahi Hospital alone, and we’re looking to open up another 10 beds at our sister facility Maluhia.”

The Healthcare Association of Hawaii is working on bringing in over 200 nurses to support long-term care facilities.

As the last leg of the holiday weekend comes to an end, hospital officials are asking the public to not let their guards down just yet.

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“Unless your loved one needs hospitalized care, you don’t know how hard it is in the hospital and how impacted we are right now,” Cabatu said. “Since it’s such a beautiful day out in Hawaii, it’s so easy to be disconnected, but you know that your actions out there have an impact on what happens in our hospital.”

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