Maui Has 24 Ventilators, Next State Equipment Supply to Arrive on Monday
By Wendy Osher
Lt. Governor Josh Green who serves as the state’s liaison for health care response spent the past three weeks speaking with the health care community and visiting facilities, including five major hospitals statewide.
“I visited Wilcox Hospital on Kauai where they have an exceptional set up and are very well prepared to take care of any cases that may come. Maui Memorial followed, Hilo Medical Center, Kona Hospital (and) Queens Medical Center. Everyone is putting into place an important process so if we do get a surge–when we do get a surge of COVID-19 cases that require intensive care, they will be ready to save lives of our kupuna or anyone who is sick,” he said during an afternoon press conference on Thursday.
He said current concerns include shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators. At Maui Memorial Medical Center, there are 24 ventilators out of 561 statewide. Across the state, there were 78 ventilators in use on Wednesday out of 431 ventilators that were activated.
Lt. Gov. Green said the purpose of ventilators is to treat those who go into serious respiratory failure. He gave an overview of the current hospital capacity and what can be done to expand upon it.
“The majority of the ventilators are on Oʻahu, and then a smaller percentage on Maui, Big Island and Kauaʻi has a very small number,” said Lt. Gov. Green. “We can surge some of our ventilator capacity by changing out the surgical rooms where we did elective surgeries before we came to this point.”
Across the state, there are 328 intensive care unit beds and 204 negative pressure isolation room beds. Lt. Gov. Green outlined overall capacity of facilities across the state.
“The state of Hawaiʻi has 3,031 licensed hospital beds. The average daily census is 1970–that means about 65 percent to 67 percent of beds are filled. We can surge that capacity by 15 percent or another 500 beds. That means we have 1,500 beds available if people get sick,” he said.
Lt. Gov. Green said the state can also activate field hospital capacity if its ultimately needed. “These numbers fluctuate. They change from hour to hour. But what we want people to know is we are preparing to surge if we have more sick people than we normally could care for,” he said.
As for equipment, additional supplies are due to arrive from federal and national stockpiles on March 30th. As of March 26, Hawaiʻi has on hand 18,000 N95 masks, 3,800 face shields, 20,000 pairs of gloves and 22,000 surgical masks remaining.
County officials said Maui is expected to resume drive-through testing at War Memorial Gymnasium on Monday when 100 more test kits will become available. The Maui District Health Office notes that as test results come in (expected early next week), there may be a spike in the number of new reported COVID-19 cases.
“Our priority is to continue to give you information, to make sure we have additional beds if necessary… to make sure that our provider capacity is improved and we can surge if we need it,” said Lt. Green. “This is a critical period. The governor has taken very decisive action and we should applaud him for that. He’s made Hawaiʻi safer. Our mayors are implementing stringent policies to prevent a catastrophic peak of COVID-19 because we cannot have a surge… where we would not have enough capacity to care for people. When you’re flattening the curve, we want to go more slowly so we can care for everyone,” said Lt. Gov. Green.