‘A perfect storm’: Hospitals say COVID-19 surge is affecting other patients, exhausting workers

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 4:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The exploding COVID case counts in Hawaii will inevitably lead to more people ending up in hospitals, which are already caring for a wave of coronavirus patients, state health officials say.

The numbers are rising daily, with 283 people with the virus hospitalized Friday.

The impact is being felt everywhere, especially the Neighbor Islands.

“We are in a bit of a perfect storm here in which the hospital is full, we even got requests from other hospitals to accept their patients,” said Elena Cabatu, of the Hilo Medical Center, which currently has 11 COVID-19 patients with six in the Intensive Care Unit, four of them are on ventilators.

“If we were to have someone who had a heart attack in the community we would have to hold that person in our emergency department,” Cabatu said.

Also on the Big Island: Kona Community Hospital set up a triage tent this week expecting an overflow of infected patients

“Every hospital facility is implementing surge plans, as we speak,” said Gov. David Ige at a press conference regarding the spike in cases.

But it’s not just the capacity that’s pushing hospitals to the brink — staffing shortages are also making it difficult.

“Our frontline healthcare workers have been doing this for so long and there’s just tremendous fatigue already,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of the Hawaii Department of Health.

More than 500 relief health care workers from the mainland are expected to arrive starting this weekend.

The first group going to the neighbor islands.

Cabatu said 11 nurses and a respiratory therapist will be at the Hilo Medical Center on Monday, for a two-month stretch.

“We welcome them with open arms,” said Cabatu.

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