Overwhelmed, a Big Island healthcare worker has a public plea: Get vaccinated

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Roberta Losik hoped her team wouldn’t be overwhelmed by positive cases once the vaccine came. But now, the West Hawaii Community Health Center is stretched thin once more.

Losik is the director of clinical operations at the center in Downtown Kona. She said the amount of people coming in with COVID symptoms is outnumbering the amount of people coming in for the vaccine.

“Last time, we lost a lot of staff due to exhaustion,” she said. “I don’t want to do that again, but we’ll do it if we have to. If you watch the trend, we’re going in that direction.”

In the last two weeks, positive cases in Hawaii County rose 200%, according to the state department of health.

“They are coming from clusters,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “It’s a result of gatherings of people who aren’t vaccinated. We’re seeing a lot of younger people get it, too.”

Roth said that hospitals currently have available capacity, but he is worried about the limited healthcare available.

“We need to keep people safe and the easy way to do this is to get vaccinated,” he said.

For Caitee McAllister, a nurse at Hilo Medical Center, the battle is personal.

“Both of my parents had it,” she said. “We had to say goodbye to my grandpa through a window. So the next day after my grandpa passed, I came back to the hospital worked in the COVID unit.”

She said what’s heartbreaking about working with patients at this point in the pandemic, is that their suffering is preventable.

“I think the community doesn’t realize how hard it is to take care of COVID patients and people who are suffering from COVID,” she said. “It’s just so heartbreaking knowing that there’s a vaccine out there that can stop this.”

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