Maui Hospital Visit Limited to Outdoor COVID-19 Response Areas
By Wendy Osher
Several local government leaders made a site visit yesterday of the Maui Memorial Medical Center, including Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, state Senators Gil Keith-Agaran and Rosalyn Baker, and state Representatives Justin Woodson and Troy Hashimoto.
The visit was limited to an outdoor tour of the hospital’s COVID-19 response areas due to the no-visitor policy currently in place to further protect patients and employees from the virus.
Mayor Victorino said the tour allowed him to see the hospital’s upgrades and changes. “I was quite pleased at what I saw, but the proof is in the pudding and we’re going to work hard. They’re working hard to make sure you would be safe if and when you need to go to the hospital–whether it’s the ER or any other services provided.”
The Maui hospital had the largest cluster of COVID-19 cases under investigation in the state. The number of individuals linked to the Maui Hospital COVID-19 cluster currently stands at 58 individuals, including 38 staff and 20 patients. The latest positive case involves an elderly Lānaʻi woman who contracted COVID-19 while she was hospitalized at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Screening and Meeting with Emergency Department
The tour started with a fever and symptom screening, conducted by MMMC nurses. The mayor and lawmakers were provided with masks and wore a screening verification sticker during their visit.
According to Maui Health, the group was greeted by members of the Emergency Operations Center, the Emergency Department, Employee Health and senior hospital leadership who shared information on efforts to keep patients, the the community and employees safe.
The group was shown the Emergency Department outdoor screening station where arriving patients go to get screened for COVID-19 symptoms before entering the emergency room.
“We are proud to welcome island leaders to our hospital and show them how we are caring for the community through this pandemic,” said Dr. Vijak X. Ayasanonda, vice chair of the emergency department in a Maui Health press release. “We know this is an unsettling time, but we want to reassure our community that it is safe to receive care here.”
The group was also shown an assortment of donations received by Maui Health Foundation from the community. The donations included a variety of supplies, personal protective equipment and many food products.
Rep. Woodson shared a personal experience his family recently had with the Emergency Department saying, “…we had to rush to the ER, we were terrified because we didn’t know what was going to happen, but every person that we interacted with was extremely professional, very competent and most importantly everyone cared.” He continued saying, “this experience really gave us a sense of security, sense of assurance and a sense of calmness that if we ever needed to come to the hospital that you folks would all be here for us.”
Morale / Appreciation for Hospital Workers
“I hope we can get confidence back into the community and to all the working staff–medical as well as non-medical staff there at Maui Memorial. But I know they’ve walked in the right direction making corrections,” said Mayor Victorino in a morning radio interview on KPOA 93.5 FM.
When asked about morale at the hospital, Mayor Victorino said, “I really didn’t get much chance to speak to the staff… but I know the morale was fairly low for a while. Hopefully it is improving.”
“You’re always going to have anxieties, let’s be honest,” said the Mayor, who thanked the health care workers who continue to provide services amid the pandemic. “They’re the front line heroes. They’re treating us as we come in sick, whether it’s COVID-19 or any other disease or injury.”
“I wanted to express appreciation that we all have for everyone that works here at the hospital,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran in a Maui Health press release recapping the visit.
Now “Caught Up” on PPEs, But Hospital “Would Be Stressed” if New Outbreak Occurred
The mayor pointed towards the changes that have been made–including the amount of PPEs (personal protective equipment) now on hand.
In terms of PPE supply including masks, Mayor Victorino said the County is still having challenges in getting enough, “However, like everything else, the supplies have caught up with what they needed. So I feel that they are in good position right now,” however, he said, “If there was an outbreak or anything else went wrong, they’d be stressed to get enough PPEs.”
“But right now, they have a good inventory and I think the hospital, along with most facilities including the county, we’re okay at this point in time,” said Mayor Victorino.
In an update provided by the state Department of Health on Tuesday, officials said they are recommending the facility repeat in-service training for staff on proper PPE use, and other protective measures.
Bi-Weekly Employee Virtual Town Hall
The visit concluded with attendance and participation in a bi-weekly employee virtual town hall meeting hosted by the Emergency Operations Center and senior leadership.
Maui Health says the town halls provide an opportunity for the hospital to share the latest updates on the facility’s COVID-19 response efforts.
According to Maui Health, hundreds of listeners joined the call as the leaders expressed their gratitude and support of Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Senator Baker said, “We are so proud of all of our first responders, our frontline nurses, doctors and technicians and everyone who makes sure we have the very best possible care on Maui. Just know that we’re with you.”
Representative Hashimoto said, “we are glad to be here with each of you to hear what you’re doing and to assist through any means we can.”