Hospitals prepare for surge in patients as Lane bears down on state

8/24 4 p.m.: Hurricane Lane downgraded to Category 1 storm
Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 at 6:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Depending on Hurricane Lane's path, hospitals could see a huge surge of patients needing emergency care.

The Queen's Medical Center and its West Oahu facility postponed all elective procedures and surgeries on Friday and Saturday. The hospitals are stocked up with supplies and the generators are ready. Employees have gone through training to deal with natural disasters or any large influx of patients.

"We're a level-one trauma center, the only one in the state, and we're really prepared for that. Then there's after the event, if it's really catastrophic, you see things such as dehydration, exhaustion, infections," said Dr. Leslie Chun, chief medial officer at The Queen's Medical Center.

In Windward Oahu, Adventist Health Castle has activated its 24/7 incident command center and has supplies ready for staff and patients.

"It's important that they fill their medications in advance before the storm comes," said Dr. Alan Cheung, vice president of medical affairs. "If there's any social needs, we're not a shelter here so we're here mainly for medical emergencies."

Bruce Anderson, director of Hawaii's Department of Health. said that having enough hospital space in case of a huge influx is a major challenge.

"Basically, our health care system is very fragile in that respect. Our hospitals are full. They can't afford to keep beds open for people in the event of storms like this," Anderson said. "Fortunately, in this case we actually have a federal agency that has sent two teams here, 30 people on each team, with resources to help support establishing medical facilities if need be."

Staffing has also been boosted at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

"We've increased our support staff here for the next four days. A lot of us are looking at bunking in, that way we make sure that we have adequate staff to be able to rotate shifts and make sure people get sleep," Dr. Kari Dechenne.

Honolulu Shriners Hospital is also ready to respond if needed. Patients from the Pacific Basin who are there for ongoing care are being kept safe with their families.

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