Medical experts share agreements, varying opinions in special HNN panel

Experts from the healthcare industry join Hawaii News Now for another town hall-style meeting on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 12:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal for all of us ― and prompted lots of questions about what the future holds.

To help you keep your family and the community safe, Hawaii News Now convened another panel of medical professionals helping to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

During the panel, health care experts spoke openly on ways they agreed and disagreed — and how the community has learned from the rapidly changing disease.

“I think we need to get the message out to all the hospitals and all the organizations that have people at risk, they really need to provide their at-risk employees with N95s (masks),” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, President of Premier Medical Group.

Dr. Melinda Ashton, Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of Hawaii Pacific Health, says her hospital system is working hard to understand what level of personal protective equipment is the appropriate level.

“When we hear blanket everybody needs an N95 kind of statements, we get everybody nervous again. I think we really need to be careful. There’s no one right side of PPE for every patient encounter,” she said.

There’s also debate on testing of patients who are not showing symptoms. Healthcare experts say despite protests, they supported Hawaii’s lockdown measures and credited residents for flattening the curve especially compared to other jurisdictions.

“The numbers tell us that our lockdown procedures, the policies and the recommendations have been protecting us as a population. I understand it’s frustrating,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

Many global experts have said it takes at least 12 to 18 months to develop and test a new vaccine, but there is a race to push ahead.

In the meantime, physicians worry about what could be ahead. "Until the vaccination is created, one can expect to see more waves.

“Hopefully those waves are small, manini, but we can’t predict whether those waves are going to happen,” said Dr. Robin Matsukawa, primary care physician at Adventist Health Castle.

Despite some dark days during this pandemic, each health care expert described a glimmer of hope.

“I think we have seen such an outpouring of support for healthcare,” said Dr. Ashton.

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