The Queen's Medical Center confirms swine flu cases among employees - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

The Queen's Medical Center confirms swine flu cases among employees

Torlen Shinjo Torlen Shinjo
Cindy Kamikawa Cindy Kamikawa

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Queen's Medical Center confirmed Tuesday several employees have been infected with swine flu. They work in different departments at the main hospital and are recovering at home.

Sources tell KHNL/K5 employees who tested positive for the H1N1 virus include two doctors and at least one nurse. Hospital officials say the situation is under control, and they're doing the best they can to prevent the virus from spreading.

The Queen's Medical Center is the state's highest level trauma hospital. It sees more than 260,000 patients every year. The news of several employees coming down with swine flu has some in the community concerned.

"Oh my God," said Torlen Shinjo, a Waipahu resident. "That's shocking because we need those doctors and nurses to take care of those very sick patients at the hospital and that is my hospital, too."

The H1N1 virus has spread globally. The World Health Organization classified it as a "pandemic" on June 11. Hawaii had its first confirmed case of swine flu on May 5, and now it's reached the Queen's Medical Center.

"I really wasn't surprised," said an anonymous registered nurse who works at Queen's. "It's global and it was time to come to Hawaii and with nurses, there's a lot of us and it was only a matter of time someone in the healthcare field would come down with it."

About 3,000 people work at the main hospital, so this swine flu outbreak represents only a small fraction of the total number of employees.

"At this time we have no plan to testing on all of our employees," said Cindy Kamikawa, vice president of nursing and chief nursing officer for The Queen's Medical Center. "We are taking precautions that we take all the time to assure that employees are not coming to work sick."

According to sources, earlier in the month, 23 staff members at the trauma ICU unit were out sick because of flu like symptoms. That's when backup had to be called in.

The hospital has a float pool and part-time nurses to cover shifts.

"We'll always evaluate that on a day-to-day, shift-to-shift basis to assure that we have adequate staffing in all of our different departments to care for our patients," said Kamikawa.

At this time, the outbreak has not spread to other employees, and no patients have been infected from contact with hospital staff.

"As with any communicable disease, we follow our CDC -- the Centers for Disease Control -- guidelines and precautions," said Kamikawa.

Despite this recent outbreak, patients still have confidence in The Queen's Medical Center.

"That's my hospital," said Shinjo. "I was born there and I would still go to that hospital no matter what."

Since May, almost 550 people have come down with swine flu statewide, including an outbreak infecting about 20 Moloka'i firefighters.

Monday, the first swine-flu related death was reported in Hawaii. A woman in her late 60's died June 19 at Tripler Army Medical Center.

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