Hawaii hospitals prepare for new restrictions for visitors, former patient says it’s the right call

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Starting Wednesday, in order to visit loved ones at Queen’s hospitals a COVID-19 vaccine is needed.

This is a move amid growing COVID-19 numbers and the spread of the delta variant.

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Exceptions will be made for newborn and end-of-life visits. In addition, only one visitor will be allowed per patient and according to an Oahu man, one visitor is better than none.

“There were times where I was begging to see a family member or my loved ones, because I did not trust what was going on and wasn’t fully aware of what was happening,” said Sean Tiwanak, who was hospitalized during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tiwanak was forced to share his medical updates on social media from his hospital bed last year. He suffered from heart failure, and the need for a heart transplant at the peak of the pandemic. That also meant no visitors allowed.

“There were times that was so difficult,” Tiwanak said. “because you don’t have any real contact with people, you never see anyone’s face. I’ve known staff at the hospital for months and never saw what they look like.”

Tiwanak credits hospital staff for stepping up to be his support system.

“I had an experience where I had a doctor actually hold my hand,” he shared. “That meant so much to me.”

Although at times it felt like going through uncharted waters, Tiwanak applauds the hospital for protecting its patients.

“The way the hospitals organized themselves, I felt extremely safe,” he recalled. “I felt that it was even safer than under normal circumstances, because of the limited amount of number of people there. So there are some positives to them implementing this type of restrictions.”

After a successful heart transplant surgery and knowing first hand what it’s like to go through it alone, Tiwanak’s message is clear.

“The only problem is if you decide to get vaccinated after your loved one is in the hospital, it could take weeks before you’re able to go see them. When the time comes, it’ll be too late to get vaccinated.”

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