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As Queen’s West Oahu declares ‘disaster,’ crisis worsens at other hospitals

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 4:47 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 7:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Friday afternoon, Queen’s West Oahu declared a “disaster,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi confirmed.

“I just learned moments ago that Queen’s West is closed down. Not receiving any ambulances. We have in route a mobile unit by the city,” he said. “It will be staffed with some people. I’m not exactly sure how many right now.”

Health care experts say a disaster is declared when overflow capacity and other internal emergency responses have been exceeded requiring outside support.

More Hawaii hospitals are expected to follow suit.

Meanwhile, a second wave of medical personnel from the mainland is expected to touch down in Honolulu this weekend. The group is made up of several hundred nurses and respiratory therapists who will be deployed across the state.

“The next two to four weeks is going to be one of the most challenging times Hawaii has ever seen from a healthcare perspective,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

In town, no ambulances were seen coming or going from Straub Medical Center for some time Friday morning — a sign the emergency room is nearly full.

“Almost all of the hospitals are filling up as far as their intensive care units,” Green said.

It’s not only a problem on Oahu. Mayor Mitch Roth described what’s happening on Hawaii Island as “dire.”

“All of the hospitals talked about incidents where they had people waiting in the ER for not just hours, but for days waiting to get into an ICU or hospital room,” he said.

The lieutenant governor said as of 8 a.m., 371 people were hospitalized with coronavirus statewide. He later confirmed 10 more patients had been admitted before noon.

More than 90% percent are unvaccinated.

With more than 9,000 active COVID infections across Hawaii, hospitalizations are expected to double in the next month.

This latest surge has many in the community and some local leaders calling for mandatory testing of all incoming travelers.

“To look at bringing back testing for all people, whether they’re vaccinated or not vaccinated,” said Roth.

But Green said today the state’s Attorney General advised against it.

“It’s very likely it would get shot down in court because the CDC sent out guidance that it’s safe to travel if you’re vaccinated,” he said.

People are being urged to get their shots now.

“In talking to the doctors and nurses at the hospital, one of things that patients often tell them is — I wish I would have gotten the vaccination,” said Roth. “Because once they’re in the hospital, it’s too late.”

According to state data a total of 61.7% of Hawaii residents are now fully vaccinated.

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