HONOLULU (KHON2) — From trauma, diseases and COVID, hospitals are near capacity across Hawaii. According to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, 2,749 patients are filling facilities.
“That is literally a new record for us and that is a higher census than at any point during either the Omicron or the Delta surges,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO.
Hilo Medical Center is working over capacity. Internal tents are being installed to help meet the demand.
“We have a lot of patients who are sicker than usual that are coming to us,” said Elena Cabatu of Hilo Medical Center.
Staffing continues to be an issue for many hospitals.
“We still have on any given day, between 200 and 300 patients who are ready to be discharged. We don’t have the staff though in our long-term care facilities to accept those patients,” said Raethel.
Gov. David Ige signed emergency rules in August to allow out-of-state nurses to practice in Hawaii, but Hilo Medical Center is creating the state’s first paid nurses’ aid program as a long-term fix. There’s no college degree needed. Applicants just need a high school diploma and be 18 years or older.
“We’re looking forward to training our first 10 nurses aides in the cohorts and throughout the year we are planning on training about two or three of these cohorts,” Cabatu said.
Experts said part of the staffing shortage could be related to the pause of the pandemic and the inability to train students. Nursing schools like at Chaminade University are working with health officials to beef up the workforce.
“We’re partnering in that senior year to really blend that transition of practice more seamlessly through programs that include hours and course development of that new grad program while they’re in school,” said Pamela Smith, Chaminade University Associate Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions.
Health officials are searching for more solutions to best provide medical care for all of Hawaii.
Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page
“It’s going to take a variety of initiatives to really reduce this burden, including continuing to build up CNA workforce to work in our long-term care facilities,” Raethel said.