Queen’s Health Systems declares a state of emergency as COVID-19 patients increase in hospitals in Hawaii



The Queen’s health care system declared an “internal state of emergency” on Friday as the influx of COVID-19 patients to his hospital in West Oahu exceeded the beds available and the staff’s ability to care for them.

“That means everyone is on deck,” said Jason Chang, chief operating officer of The Queen’s Health Systems and president of The Queen’s Medical Center.

Chang said that at one point 63 patients showed up in the emergency room at Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu, 26 of whom were believed to have COVID-19.

“This is a crisis because this ER has 24 beds and 63 make it very difficult for us to provide the right level of care,” he said.

All 104 beds at West Oahu Hospital are full and as many patients as possible are being transferred to Queen’s Medical Center in downtown Honolulu and possibly the neighboring islands, Chang said.

But that’s a challenge too, as these hospitals are also struggling to cope with the surge in patients as COVID-19 cases rise in the islands.

Earlier this week, Chang said the hospital system had run out of available intensive care beds, elective surgeries and procedures would be canceled, and more serious surgeries postponed if possible.

He said city officials are helping set up a triage tent in front of West Oahu Hospital with about two dozen cots. The National Guard can also be called in to help.

“It really is a crisis out there,” he said. “The number of new COVID cases is just getting higher and higher.”

Chang said residents of the area should still go to West Oahu hospital in an emergency like a heart attack or stroke.

The emergency declaration applies to all health facilities of the Queen. Queen’s is expecting 74 auxiliary nurses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday. Overall, the state expects more than 500 health care workers to come to Hawaii to help with the increase in cases.

“It’s overwhelming our system,” said Chang, who urged residents to get vaccinated and stay home from social events. He also advised residents to call the Queen’s COVID hotline at 691-2619 if you are concerned about symptoms and need medical advice.

Meanwhile, senior state and county officials are discussing various new restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday, state officials reported 845 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths. The state is recording an average of 661 new cases per day.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state is considering a vaccination review program, similar to the one in San Francisco and New York City, that requires people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, and other indoor facilities.

He said such a policy could be two to three weeks away.

“We’re working on this policy and giving it to the governor as an option,” Green told Spotlight Hawaii, the Honolulu star advertiser‘s livestream program, on Friday.

A corporate vaccine verification program is one of a number of options that Green said the county’s governor and mayors are considering as the highly contagious Delta variant is causing COVID-19 cases to rise and fall in the islands Influx of patients burdened hospitals. Green said it was an idea to impose a curfew to ease pressure on the emergency rooms, but he doubts it will happen.

With a section of the public pushing for stricter measures to control the spread of the virus, Green said the political choices were complicated.

“I know there are people who say, ‘Look, just shut it all down,'” said Green. “But that’s a pretty difficult thing to do when a family who has been vaccinated suddenly can’t pay their rent, can’t pay their mortgage, isn’t able to pay for their children’s groceries, and doesn’t have additional unemployment protection.”

Green said punishing everyone is difficult because 17% of residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine have still not received it. But if case numbers can’t be controlled or school outbreaks occur, Green said the state will likely need to look into closings.

As of Friday morning, 381 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized across the state, 90% of whom are unvaccinated, Green said. On July 1, before the delta variant of the coronavirus caused a spike in cases, only 40 people had been hospitalized with the virus, according to state data.

According to Green, there are 3,200 hospital beds across the state, of which about 2,200 are currently occupied. The state is in the process of hiring more than 500 auxiliaries, including ICUs and ventilators, to help hospitals open more beds.

Green said the state also has a variety of options to increase capacity, including converting hotels into makeshift hospitals, using the National Guard to set up portable hospitals, and using the Hawai’i Convention Center for patients.

At the more extreme end of the options is building a new facility that would cost about $ 300 million. “That would be if we had high scores in the hospital for months and our hospital facilities couldn’t survive,” he said.


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