Hospitals on Maui, Oahu on alert as COVID-19 outbreak on Lanai grows

Hospitals on Maui, Oahu on alert as COVID-19 outbreak on Lanai grows

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite a growing COVID-19 outbreak on Lanai, no patients from the island have required hospitalization for the virus.

Officials are hoping it stays that way.

Lanai has a small hospital and several medical clinics, but is overall ill-equipped to handle any surge in COVID-19 patients. “At this point in time we don’t have anyone who has been identified as actually sick enough to be admitted to a hospital,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO of Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

Four critical care beds are available at the hospital, which is part of the Maui Health System.

Michael Rembis, CEO of Maui Health System, said doctors are on standby to help.

“We checked all of our supplies and equipment. we have a ventilator there. We have additional respirator equipment,” he said.

Rembis said a COVID-19 patient requiring more medical attention would be flown to Maui.

"If they need to be intubated, and they’re struggling, we’d like to get them to Maui Memorial where we have a lot more services avaialable for them.”

Oahu is another option if the number of sick patients climbs.

Health experts statewide say hospitals have recovered from the surge of August and there are a significant number of beds available.

“It’s certainly better," Martha Smith, the executive vice president of Hawaii Pacific Health’s Oahu operations. “I don’t think any time is a good time for this, obviously, but we do have more capacity than we did a month ago.”

Lanai had remained coronavirus-free until this week, when four cases were reported Tuesday. By Thursday, there were more than three dozen confirmed cases ― with many tests pending.

“It is a very scary situation," said Raethel. "You have a very small close knit community, a lot of multi-generational families.”

Extra healthcare workers from the mainland are in Hawaii and available to relieve exhausted staff statewide.

Raethel said more are on the way later this month.

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