As cases continue to surge, hospitals see concerning rise in younger COVID patients

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 11:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The situation inside of Hawaii’s hospitals is becoming more dire by the day.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Green reported that there are now 339 people hospitalized with COVID.

Staff shortages aren’t the only problem — health leaders said a number of hospitals across the state have intensive care units running at or above capacity.

”Things are very serious,” said Jason Chang, chief operating officer at Queen’s Health System. “I think we have tried to express to the community that things are getting much more serious especially a month ago.”

Chang said while ICU beds are running out, his team is still able to care for non-COVID patients.

”Typically we have been going up by five every day. It is slightly slower but we are able to get some patients discharged,” he added. “But I think the one thing that is important to know is that only ten of those patients in the hospital are vaccinated, everyone else is unvaccinated.”

At nearly every state health care facility, the story is almost identical: Young people are at risk now more than ever.

”I don’t think people realize just how bad it is. Of our 33 patients in the hospital right now, 12 are between 20 and 40 years old,” said Mike Rembis, Maui Memorial Medical Center CEO.

“We had someone who was struggling for their life at 30 years of age with young children at home — all avoidable had they been vaccinated,”

The same situation is happening at Adventist Health Castle where more and more young people are being admitted.

”It’s a really young population that we are caring for that have COVID and a much sicker population,” said Ryan Ashlock, president of Adventist Health Castle.

At Hawaii Pacific Health, Executive Vice President Melinda Ashton offered important advice for travelers, specifically returning residents.

”We are hearing over and over again from people coming back who say ‘Hey, I was in (fill in the blank) Nashville, Las Vegas, where ever.’ If you were in that situation please stay home until you can get tested,” said Ashton.

She said even with the vaccine passport, residents should test before they fly home and avoid mingling with friends immediately after returning in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

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