Additional hospitals adding virus screening

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Local hospitals are ramping up their screening for anyone who walks in the door to make sure they don’t spread any viruses.

At the Queen’s Medical Center, there are three screening stations for visitors when they enter the hospital. There are signs posted letting visitors know that they need to be checked before they can see their loved one.

A nurse will take the visitor’s temperature and ask if the person has any flu-like symptoms like coughing, a runny nose and a sore throat.

If they don’t have a fever or any of those symptoms, they will get a daily pass to enter the hospital.

Julius Pham, interim chief quality officer for the Queen’s Health System, said this is important to make sure viruses aren’t being spread even more.

“We’ve had several events where we’ve had patients infected with influenza while they were in the hospital, and that’s probably because family members who had influenza came in and probably gave it to them,” said Pham.

He said they’ve seen a major spike in flu cases this year, so they began screening around January, and they aren’t the only hospital now screening.

Kaiser Permanente said its Moanalua Medical Center has also started taking precautions.

Visitors will have a temperature check, and if they’re heading to the oncology unit, they will have to wear a mask even if they’re healthy. Children under the age of 14 won’t be allowed to visit patients in their rooms.

For Queen’s Medical Center, children under the age of 12 aren’t allowed. Pham said it’s because children can often be carriers of the flu.

“We want to get the message out that please, children under 12, you know, let them stay at home when you come to visit because they are often carriers of influenza,” said Pham. “And so they can infect your loved ones, as well as our staff and other patients.”

KHON asked if screening may extend to coronavirus as well, if cases pop up in Hawaii.

“Currently we are screening our patients for coronavirus and we’re following guidelines set by the Department of Health and [Centers for Disease Control],” said Pham. “We are not screening [visitors and staff] for coronavirus because right now there’s no official recommendation from the CDC or the DOH.”

Hospitals say they are continually checking with the state Department of Health to see if there are changes made to the department’s recommendations.

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