Schatz: VA Health Team Mobilized, Heading To Hilo As Early As Today

September 11, 2020, 6:45 AM HST · Updated September 11, 6:45 AM
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The US Department of Veterans Affairs has mobilized a team of infection control experts, nurses and other health care professionals to provide immediate support and help contain a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo.

The move comes just days after US Senator Brian Schatz made an urgent request to the VA following rising COVID-19 cases and deaths at the Hilo facility.

“More help is on the way,” said Senator Schatz. “This medical team will be a big help in containing the outbreak happening on the Big Island. My staff and I will continue working with the VA and state and local officials to make sure we are utilizing all the federal help that’s available.”

Details of the VA mission follows:

  • VA Subject Matter Experts will conduct an onsite assessment in the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo for infection control issues.
  • The purpose is to formulate recommendations for interventions, processes, and procedures to address an outbreak of COVID-19.
  • The VA team is expected to consist of: an infectious disease physician, a facilities engineer who understands environmental air flow and AC systems, an infectious disease nurse specialist with expertise in running COVID-19 units, a safety officer, an industrial hygienist, and a nurse manager.
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The state Department of Health reports that it is aware of six additional deaths associated with COVID-19 at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo; however, it is awaiting medical records from the facility as part of its official confirmation and documentation process.

To date, the state has confirmed three COVID-19 deaths in Hawai‘i County.  Meantime, the Hilo Medical Center is reporting a total of 10 deaths, all at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home.

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