By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow
HONOLULU, Hawaii (KITV) — The Queen’s Health Systems reported Friday it is tapping into the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several hiring firms for 130 extra nurses to take on a surge in hospitalizations.
“Our frontline caregivers have been working overtime, extra hours, and we sympathize with the work that they’re doing,” said Queen’s Chief Operating Officer Jason Chang, adding all of the additional nurses would come from the mainland because the health system already looked into local resources.
According to Chang, Queen’s has seen a rise in both COVID and regular patients, including those who seek medical care for heart attacks, strokes, and trauma.
As of Friday afternoon, Queen’s reported 45 COVID patients in three of its locations on O’ahu and Hawai’i Island — eight of them are in intensive care and on ventilators.
Friday’s case count added five more patients in Queen’s care since the day before.
“We’re just looking at the future and our models show that if things progress the way they are, this could very much look like last summer,” Chang said.
Now that the vaccine is available, Chang said Queen’s has seen more COVID patients who are unvaccinated who end up in the hospital.
If hospitalizations continue to rise, Queen’s might require both staff and visitors to get vaccinated.
“Makes sense, especially if we start seeing more community spread, because we’re trying to protect our caregivers and our patients,” Chang said.
Dr. Melinda Ashton of Hawai’i Pacific Health hopes the rise in cases among the unvaccinated will encourage others to get the shot.
“Vaccinations are working, they’re working exactly as they should and they will protect us from severe disease, hospitalization, and death,” Ashton said.
Chang said FEMA is comparing Queen’s need for nurses to other facilities in the county and hopes to receive new nurses in a few weeks.
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