HONOLULU (KHON2) — The impact of coronavirus on Hawaii hospitals was gradual compared to other states, but the latest spike in cases is now being felt among doctors and nurses.

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The Director of Critical Care for Hawaii Pacific Health, Dr. Jonathan Paladino, said cases are accelerating, they are seeing a 100% increase of COVID-19 patients compared to June, and some departments are near capacity.

“Nurses are now starting to log 16-hour shifts and some of the doctors are having to work more consecutive days in a row,” Paladino said. “You know, we are not in crisis mode yet but we are starting to see the beginnings of added effort.”

He said plans that were drafted at the start of the pandemic preparing for a patient surge are now being implemented.

Paladino said, “I think we are already there. Some of the hospitals are already reporting some of the daily census close to 100% so that means that every bed is occupied.”  

He said reaching 100% capacity within areas of the hospital does not mean its overwhelmed, Hawaii Pacific Health has plans for capacity that reaches over 200%. That kind of surge would require moving patients to other facilities or repurposing outpatient rooms into intensive care units.

Paladino said, “We could be overjoyed if we never have to actuate those plans but, you know, we already have the game plan for how to do this.”

State officials have now placed restrictions on inter-island travel once again to curve the spread of the virus. Hawaii State Department of Health Director, Dr. Bruce Anderson said projections show that hospitals will be at full capacity by the end of August.

Anderson said, “We have two models we look at recently–both of which project–we’ll see the ICU beds fully occupied by the 21st, I think it was and even earlier in one model, the 19th, so a couple of weeks out.”

Even with plans in place at hospitals and improvements in treatments, Dr. Paladino said it is likely COVID-19 will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.

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