HONOLULU (KHON2) — In just two days, the state has reached another record number of COVID deaths. Nine new deaths were reported on Friday, Aug. 27, all on Oahu, along with 1,035 new COVID cases.
Of the nine, four were in their 70’s, two in their 60’s and three in their 50’s. The state also reached a record number of COVID hospitalizations, 426. Officials are already trying to come up with alternative plans to increase healthcare capacity.
Officials say hospitals are getting dangerously close to hitting their limits. The Healthcare Association of Hawaii says Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu reached its maximum capacity of intensive care patients on Thursday.
“They had no capability to accept transfers from the neighbor islands or other hospitals. Now, fortunately, today they’re in a little bit better shape,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO.
Hospitals have already set up tents, which are called acute care modules, just in case they run out of bed space. But Raethel points out that intensive care patients need all types of special equipment which cannot be used in those tents. He says bed space, in general, is now a growing concern.
“If the counts continue to climb beyond that, we need to look at other alternatives, and we are working with the hospitals and the Department of Health and HIEMA on what those next levels of alternatives might be,” said Raethel.
He didn’t want to say what those next levels of alternatives might be but he says they will be costly and far from ideal.
“There are options. We are hoping very much that we do not exhaust the on-island resources because the alternatives are not very attractive,” said Raethel.
Additional beds will need more staffing. FEMA is sending 200 more healthcare professionals on Monday and Raethel says 100 more are expected the following week. But he says even those numbers might not be enough to deal with the ongoing surge of COVID cases. COVID patients, especially those who are unvaccinated, who make up more than 90%, use up a lot of hospital resources.
“Many of those are in for three to four weeks, and a number of those are in our ICUs and on oxygen or ventilated. And those are the ones that are requiring much more intensive level of care,” said Raethel.
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Kaiser Permanente also announced Friday that it will start postponing some elective surgeries to free up bed space starting on Monday. Patients affected will be notified by the hospital.