‘It means a lot,’ programs to help local heroes expanding

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s been about one week since the Hotels for Heroes program opened. Since then 971 room nights have been booked.

One of the people using the program is Maui Memorial doctor Art Chasen. Since the pandemic came to Hawaii, Chasen has decided to stay away from his family to keep them safe. He hasn’t seen them in three weeks.

“It’s highly transmissible. Some providers are going to get it and we all knew that, and that’s why I stopped going home,” said Chasen. “I have an office near the hospital, and I essentially moved out of my house into my office and just bought a full mattress. I was staying on the floor.”

When the Hotels for Heroes program opened, Chasen said he jumped at the chance. He traded in a mattress on the floor for a room at the Maui Beach Hotel.

“It is miserable that you’re not home. You know, that is miserable, but it’s not as bad for me being in a hotel. It’s not as bad as it was sleeping on the floor in my office,” said Chasen.

Mufi Hanneman, President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association said any healthcare worker or first responder who isn’t under a mandatory quarantine and is still working can apply to stay in a hotel free of charge as part of the program.

He said all you need to do is get in touch with the Hotels for Heroes  point of contact at your organizations and they can help set up the stay.

“We’re going to try to make the stay of our heroes a memorable one where everyone comes together to contribute their appreciation, show their appreciation, for the work they do day in and day out for us,” said Hanneman.

He said some businesses have even partnered with Hotels for Heroes to add additional amenities.

“Enterprise services is now providing rental cars or vans for our heroes if they need transportation to various islands [and] they need to go to perform various responsibilities. Domino’s Pizza Hawaii has come forward and said they’re going to feed our heroes pizza at least once a week at all these places they’re staying at,” said Hanneman.

On Oahu, Hanneman said the Honolulu Fire Department is using up the most rooms.

“Medical emergencies they make up a majority of our calls, you know, annually,” said Kevin Mokulehua. “Just having [Hotels for Heroes] out there, there’s a sense of appreciation for us because you know you ask any firefighter out there, they don’t want anything you know they do this out of their heart.”

For Queen’s health workers, a new option available is staying at Hope Lodge. It provides a place to stay for people undergoing cancer treatment, but a decision was made to close the facility last month for the protection of the patients. Now, it’s providing 20 rooms for workers.

“This was a natural fit to make sure that those who are having a tough time on their end of the spectrum have a safe place to be so that their families are kept healthy, they as well,” said Michelle Hashimoto, Hope Lodge Hawaii manager.

Because of the close proximity to Queen’s hospitals, Hashimoto said healthcare workers can even use rooms to rest between shifts.

Chasen said any little bit helps.

“It means a lot. It feels like you have some community support [and] that they’re understanding that you’re taking some risk to continue to take care of the community patients. They’re going to support you with that, and they’re going to help you do that, and that’s a really good feeling.”

Dr. Art Chasen

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