HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has not yet seen a surge of coronavirus cases yet, but Lt. Gov. Josh Green predicts that’s likely to change over the next several weeks.
“Between April 15 and April 25 is when I think we’ll start seeing more hospital activity,” said Green, who’s a physician and is the state’s liaison with the Hawaii health care community as they respond to the pandemic.
So the state is preparing for that expected influx in cases by conducting an inventory of available hospital beds — and figuring out if a makeshift medical facility in a public venue might be needed.
Statewide, there are a total of 3,069 hospital beds.
On Thursday, Green said about 1,000 of those beds are empty.
In the event they fill up, hospitals could potentially increase capacity by turning rooms used for surgery into additional intensive care units.
“For instance, Hilo Hospital is capable of expanding 67% by using some of their surgical rooms and some of their clinics,” said Green.
“Then there are some hospitals that are so small you can’t expand at all. So you have to ask yourself: What other healthcare providers do you have? Do you have to set up a mobile facility? General Hara has spoken about field hospitals. Some of these we have in our inventory if we need them.”
Green says Hawaii has nearly 9,000 licensed physicians, but only around 4,000 are practicing. One idea to staff additional beds is by tapping that resource.
Green organized something similar this past December when he put out a call for volunteers to respond to the measles outbreak in Samoa.
In the event Hawaiii sees thousands of COVID-19 cases, Green says using the Convention Center or turning hotels into hospital rooms is a possibility.
“The Army Corps of Engineers is here, they’re gaming out these things. So we have multiple different scenarios that if we have a crisis we can quickly go with local contractors,” he said.
Green says right now the state is considering all options so they can be ready to respond if the need arises.