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As COVID surge continues, tent set up outside West Oahu hospital to expand ER capabilities

Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 3:05 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 11:19 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A tent has been set up outside Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu that will serve as an acute care module to expand the hospital’s ER capabilities.

On Monday, health officials said 439 COVID patients were hospitalized in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, another 24 were in emergency rooms waiting for a bed. Those additional patients won’t be added to the official tally until they’re admitted.

For weeks, it’s been non-stop at health care facilities across the state. That demand for emergency care is only expected to rise.

“We’re bracing for an additional surge,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

And the filled hospitals aren’t just on Oahu. Officials say resources at some neighbor island hospitals are being maxed out too.

“Hilo is very very stressed right now. They have record numbers of individuals on vents (ventilators) and in their ICUs,” said Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO Hilton Raethel.

Across Hawaii, 209 adults are currently being treated in intensive care units. That’s about double what it would be prior to the pandemic. Some 94 of those ICU patients are COVID positive.

Health officials also confirmed 155 people are currently hooked up to ventilators, unable to breath on their own.

“Of the 155 on vents. 76 are COVID positive,” said Raethel.

Green added, “The least little uptick could crash parts of the system. That’s how real it is.”

For the first time in decades an order was issued by the Governor last Wednesday that provides immunity to hospitals and their staff.

“It says if we get to a crisis point where we run out of beds, run out of staff, run out of oxygen. Whatever we run out of, there is a process in place to make the determination about who has the best chance of survival,” Raethel said.

It’s a breaking point the health care community is desperately trying to avoid.

“So if people could pitch in. And not gather -- and not catch COVID for the next two to three weeks, we would give our whole health care system a much needed breather,” said Green. “Which would help everybody. Whether you have COVID or other health problems.”

There are currently 620 health care workers from the mainland assisting local front line caregivers. Of those workers, 75% of the relief staff have been deployed on Oahu.

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