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A flood of COVID patients, many young and unvaccinated, overwhelms Maui’s main hospital

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:54 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 4:39 AM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Officials at Maui County’s main hospital are pleading for more of the public to get vaccinated as coronavirus cases rise and the facility nears capacity.

“We really, really, really need help right now,” said Dr. Vijak Ayasanonda, who works at Maui Memorial Medical Center Emergency Department.

As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, there were 31 patients hospitalized at MMMC with COVID-19. Officials said only three of them were vaccinated. Six are in the Intensive Care Unit and two are on ventilators.

“I’m very, very upset with seeing how many young folks, 20-year-olds who are being intubated, who chose not to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ayasanonda.

Dr. Mike Shea said he sees the same thing in the hospital’s ICU.

“This delta variant is serious business. It is causing very young people to get very sick. We have people in their 30s on ventilators otherwise healthy, and it’s heartbreaking to talk to their families and see their children,” Dr. Shea said.

MMMC is the main hospital for Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Recently, they have been taking patients from other islands since Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu is full.

“We have accepted patients from Kauai, we’ve accepted patients from the Big Island because they don’t have any resources left. I know they’re suffering too,” said Dr. Ayasanonda.

Next week, nurses and respiratory therapists from the mainland will be coming to Maui to relieve some of the hospital staff.

Ayasanonda and Shea said while relief will help, it won’t solve their problem.

“It is disappointing seeing this new delta variant and how sick it’s making people get, that more people haven’t now decided to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Shea.

“I really, really hope everyone takes this thing seriously,” said Dr. Ayasanonda. “I don’t want to be here working so many hours as I have. I know my whole staff is getting burnt out. And anything we can do to help relieve a little bit of this pressure will be very appreciated.”

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