Skilled nursing facilities are not required to report COVID cases to the general public, but some do

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — On Tuesday night, Sept. 29, KHON2 learned about a new outbreak at Liliha Healthcare Center on Oahu, which impacted more than two dozen people.

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We saw how the virus strikes patients in these nursing facilities hard, so we wanted to know more about the requirements for reporting positive cases.

Currently, the facility reported that 21 residents and six staff were infected with the virus. We’re told that 15 of those residents, who tested positive but were not showing symptoms, were taken to Wahiawa General Hospital to create more space for isolation at the facility.

The 92-bed Liliha Healthcare Center had a positive staff member on Sept. 16. A spokesperson said that the whole facility was then tested and the results came back on Sept. 20. The facility publicly disclosed the outbreak nine days later.

When it comes to disclosing COVID cases, the Department of Health said that healthcare providers are required to report at the state and federal levels as soon as there’s a diagnosis. The state also has a list available with limited information. On its website, the public can find 21 long-term care facilities that have reported cases of COVID so far.

On top of notifying government officials, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) told KHON2 that nursing facilities have to notify the residents and their families. But beyond that, there is no requirement to release information to the general public.

“So it’s up to the facility to decide how much information they want to share, and it is done on a case by case basis. So some facilities will share information because they choose to do so, and some facilities choose not to do so,” said Hilton Raethel of HAH.

Facilities understand tgat sometimes information could get around through the coconut wireless. But Raethel does not believe it should be a requirement to let the public know.

“I mean, all of our skilled nursing facilities do follow the state and federal laws. They do the reporting that is required, including notifying the residents and the residents’ families. And that’s the most important point is that the residents do get notified and the families get notified,” he said.

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