HONOLULU (KHON2) — Dozens of staff and patients have tested positive for COVID-19 at The Queen’s Medical Center at Punchbowl. The hospital says, the virus was discovered through widespread testing in response to one positive patient two weeks ago. The nurses union is calling for more surveillance testing to prevent such outbreaks.
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A patient who tested positive for COVID-19 at Queen’s in late December led Queen’s to launch widespread testing, which unveiled clusters totaling 27 caregivers and 12 patients infected with COVID 19. Queen’s said in a statement, “All are quarantined and receiving appropriate care. These events are occurring at the same time as a near doubling of the community positive testing rate for COVID.”
The hospital says, it launched widespread testing after the initial positive two weeks ago and the cases were detected from “broad surveillance and measures to avoid patterns of rapid transmission.”
The nurses union says, such testing should be routine and not just a crisis response.
“What we’ve been advocating for from day one, back in March, was that they do routine surveillance testing of everybody who does frontline stuff. That was resisted,” said Hawaii Nurses’ Association President Daniel Ross. “They did make testing available free to staff. They can go but it’s kind of out of the way. And so it hasn’t been utilized by the people because it’s, you know, you have to make it convenient for them. Have it right there when it comes to work you want to get tested.”
Queen’s responded by saying, they are committed to doing surveillance testing based on the resources they have available.
The outbreak comes in the midst of the state’s vaccine rollout, with many health care workers receiving their first doses around the same time the cluster began to form. Queen’s says, 5,700 caregivers within The Queen’s Health Systems have received the vaccine. The second doses are just now getting underway statewide for the earliest vaccine recipients.
“I get my second one next week. I’m scheduled to go get it. So I would encourage all of our, you know, because we need to set an example. Because the only way that I think that we’re going to, or one of the best ways and the quickest ways that we’re going to get a handle on this pandemic is getting a large number of people vaccinated,” said Ross.
Queen’s adds: “The well-being of our patients and caregivers is our highest priority . . . We are committed to best practices to ensure we are providing the highest levels of safe, compassionate healthcare to the people of Hawaii.”
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