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Hospital space at a premium, some COVID-19 patients are now sharing rooms

Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nurses on the front lines of the pandemic say as hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients, at least one hospital is having some coronavirus patients share rooms.

Daniel Ross, president of the Hawaii Nurses Association, was working a double shift at Queen’s Medical Center on Punchbowl Monday and spoke to Hawaii News Now during his lunch break outdoors.

“The community needs to take this seriously. Too many people are not taking it seriously. We’ve still got the deniers out there,” he said, his voice filling with emotion.

He says Queen’s has more than 100 positive patients at its Punchbowl hospital and has started what’s called cohorting, where two COVID-19 patients share a room.

Ross says there are three pairs of cohorts, but COVID-19 patients never share a room with a non-COVID patient. Considered a last resort, Ross says the ones who are sharing rooms are the most stable.

“The nurses are concerned because they don’t feel that it’s safe having two in there. I get the hospital’s dilemma. It’s a balancing act," Ross said.

“It’s just because we are getting so many patients so quickly. It’s filling up as we speak.”

Part of the concern is the dividing curtain itself for privacy and protection.

“The nurses are concerned, when we wear our gown, our back is exposed and you are brushing up against that curtain,” he said.

In a statement, the Queen’s Health Systems said:

“Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our caregivers and our patients. Our dedicated frontline staff are working extremely hard under difficult circumstances to deliver the highest quality care.”

Despite the complaints, Ross says they’re trying to press forward in fighting the pandemic. “I think there’s a strong sense of camaraderie. We are in this together,” said Ross.

Maui Memorial Medical Center also has some of its COVID-19 patients in cohorts.

“Positive patients are in cohorts within two warm units,” said a hospital statement.

The hospital says it’s caring for 25 positive patients and has identified 14 new positive health care workers since last Thursday with no new positives Monday.

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