Extra healthcare workers arrive from the mainland — but who’s fronting the added costs?

On Monday, 350 frontline caregivers from the mainland started work in hospitals across the state.
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 3:38 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On Monday, 350 frontline caregivers from the mainland started work in hospitals across the state. Meanwhile, 250 more are expected to touch down later this week.

With 356 COVID patients hospitalized Monday – and 1,400 frontline caregivers out of work caused they’ve been either infected or exposed to the virus – officials say the state is in desperate need of reinforcements.

But all of that help doesn’t come cheap.

The Lt. Governor says it will cost $90 million to bring in just shy of 1,000 healthcare workers.

The expectation is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the cost. However, the agency hasn’t yet signed off on the request. If FEMA doesn’t pick up the bill officials say hospitals would need to pay.

“You have to deliver healthcare during a crisis. Especially a health crisis,” Green said. “If you don’t have these healthcare workers then you have to unfortunately deal with discussions of crisis standards of care.”

That’s when resources are so scarce health systems prioritize patients based largely on their chance of survival. Hospitals can even deny treatment.

Over the past two weeks, the number of active infections documented by the state has nearly doubled.

“We had 27,000 active cases then. Today we had 51,000 active cases,” Green said. “I think that although the numbers are high they will begin to recede a little bit just like the projections and eight days later the hospital numbers will come down.”

The CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii Hilton Raethel added, “The good news is the proportion of ICU patients is staying low. The proportion of COVID patients on vents is staying low as well.”

New data also shows if you’ve gotten your booster shot, you’re much less likely to become severely ill.

Locally, boosted patients make up only about 10% of people needing hospital care.

“I don’t believe anyone who’ve been fully vaccinated and boosted has gone into the ICU,” Green said.

Officials say vaccination sites have been giving about 6,000 booster shots a day. A total of 430,000-thousand residents have gotten all of their shots.

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