Hospitals prepare for more swine flu cases

Toby Clairmont
Toby Clairmont

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

OAHU (KHNL) - With swine flu cases now confirmed, Hawaii's medical community is taking its emergency plan to another level.

Healthcare leaders are getting ready for more cases.

On Tuesday, medical reps from hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities had training on how to properly put on respirators, which protect health care workers from the swine flu virus.

The respirators are designed to filter out viruses. Learning how to use them properly is key.

Now certified, the team of healthcare workers can train others to prepare for more swine flu cases.

"I think we're just seeing the beginning of it. The first cases are a trigger for us. They're a reminder to us that there is a threat, a small threat, but it is here in our community," said Toby Clairmont, RN, Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) Director of Emergency Services.

If that threat grows, and hospitals become overwhelmed, they can tap into this facility.

It's one of several discreet warehouses filled with medical supplies and equipment, hidden for security reasons.

And with swine flu now in Hawaii, the HAH is mobilizing from Level 0 to Level 1.

"Level 1 means we're preparing to care for people who are sick," said Clairmont.

That also means screening people at hospital entrances.

"So that would mean asking people to wash their hands or disinfect them when they come in. It could ask people with colds or coughs to wear a surgical mask," said Clairmont.

If the outbreak becomes severe, the HAH is ready to send out its response trailers, which can deliver medical supplies to any part of the State.