Hospitals could be overwhelmed in a month if cases of COVID-19 continue to increase at the current rate

Coronavirus

HONOLULU(KHON2) — Hospitals could be overwhelmed within a month if the number of COVID-19 cases doesn’t start to decrease according to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green.

Healthcare Association of Hawaii president Hilton Raethel said the number of patients in hospitals with COVID-19 is “concerning” and that hospital are getting closer to capacity every single day.

“Queens Punchbowl, they are getting in about 10 to 12 COVID patients a day, they’re discharging about five or six,” Raethel said.

That means each day, they’ve added five to six COVID-19 patients.

According to Green, hospitals are currently at about 50 percent capacity.

Of the patients hospitalized with coronavirus, Green said roughly 20 percent end up in the ICU.

“A week ago our numbers were more towards 100. Now they’re more towards 170 in the hospital. That’s a big change over the course of a week. If we see a leap of a similar magnitude next week, it will start pressuring some of our hospitals and their capacity,” explained Green.

Green said that many who get the virus don’t end up in the hospital right away so it takes hospitals a few weeks to feel the impact from the positive cases that are reported.

“Most people it takes two to three weeks for the lungs to get inflamed and they get pneumonia. All of these cases that we’ve accumulated in the last three weeks, these 2,000-plus cases we have now, that’s what I’m looking at.”

KHON: “At what point are our hospitals going to be overwhelmed and it’s going to be the point of no return?”

“I would say four weeks if we continue at this rate,” Green said.

Hospital beds won’t be the only resource in short supply if this happens.

“We are looking at potentially needing to bring in critical care nurses and maybe med-surge nurses from the mainland because we have beds, we have telemetry units, we have physicians, we do not have sufficient nurses to staff all the beds that we have capacity for in Hawaii,” Raethel explained.

Raethel said he has been talking with HIEMA and the governor about the need for additional staff and resources if cases continue to increase at the current rate.

Raethel added that while some hospitals on Oahu are busier than others he is in discussion with hospital CEOs to develop a load balancing strategy to alleviate the stress at facilities like Queens Medical Center that often gets a disproportionate share of admissions.

“But we don’t want to experience what they experienced in Texas or New York where they overwhelmed the capacity to care for people and are unable to treat COVID in the hospital. That’s just essentially a death sentence if that happens. We can’t do that,” Green said.

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