HONOLULU (KHON2) — State and county leaders are already sounding the alarm about hospitals getting overwhelmed. They visited a COVID unit at the Queen’s Medical Center to get a closer look, as the situation gets worse by the day.
Queen’s has 96 COVID cases now. It has more than doubled in just over a week and with the daily case count still more than 400, officials expect things to get even worse.
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi walked through the halls of what they referred to as ground zero of the fight against the pandemic. The mayor calls it a sobering experience.
“I just talked to a very exhausted group of professionals, nurses and doctors who are giving it everything they have,” said Blangiardi. “I think sometimes that gets lost in the story. Who’s gonna take care of you when you get sick?”
Statewide, there are 246 COVID patients in hospitals, and 92 percent are unvaccinated. With more than 6,000 active cases, four to five% of them will likely end up in the hospital.
“That means about 250 individuals are going to need hospitalization in the next two or three weeks,” said Green. “That will double the number of people that are critically ill and need care for COVID.”
Queen’s says staff members are already exhausted working double, even triple shifts. They’ve asked FEMA to send more nurses from the mainland but all states are short-staffed. So the hospital is bracing for the worst.
“Nobody should have to be put in a position where we have to ration care to decide who can get care and who can’t get care,” said Jason Chang, president of Queen’s Medical Center.
Chang says Queen’s is averaging an additional five COVID patients each day. He expects that to go up. It’s saddening to see them change their mind about vaccination when it’s too late.
“Either about to get ventilated or they’ve seen their condition deteriorate, and they make the plea that they would like to get vaccinated, which is a little too late at that point,” said Chang. “It’s really heartbreaking.”
The overall message is to get vaccinated to avoid winding up in the hospital. If you’re not vaccinated, avoid gatherings and wear a mask.
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“You don’t want to get sick,” said Blangiardi. “You certainly don’t want to get sick like this. You owe it to other people, people in your family and everybody else.”