Critically Needed Out-of-State Healthcare Workers Arrive To Help Local Medical Teams

October 27, 2020, 4:30 PM HST · Updated October 27, 10:12 PM
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Gov. David Ige meets with out-of-state healthcare workers who are helping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Courtesy: St. Francis Healthcare System

Gov. David Ige (middle) met with healthcare staff. Photo Courtesy: St. Francis Healthcare System

Gov. David Ige welcomes out-of-state healthcare workers who will help local health care teams. Photo Courtesy: St. Francis Healthcare System

Gov. David Ige welcomes visiting healthcare workers. Photo Courtesy: St. Francis Healthcare System

Gov. David Ige addresses visiting nurses to help with COVID-19 pandemic. Photo Courtesy: St. Francis Medical Center

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    Gov. David Ige welcomed with proper safety protocols about 50 out-of-state healthcare workers Monday at St. Francis Healthcare System in Liliha, where they are learning the operations of Hawaiʻi’s long-term care facilities. The visiting nurses are funded with part of Hawaiʻi’s $17 million federal CARES Act allocation.

    In total, more than 170 medical employees are in Hawaiʻi now through Dec. 26, 2020. They were contracted by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) with Ohio-based ProLink Services to bolster staffing at Hawaiʻi’s hospitals and long-term care facilities because of the pandemic. The effort to staff post-acute care facilities is being coordinated by the DOH and the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi (HAH).

    The job roles were strategically selected to provide maximum value to the state. Individual staff may not remain at the same facility for the duration of their employment. Employees can be quickly mobilized into a “strike team” to assist specific nursing homes or hospitals if a COVID-19 cluster emerges.

    “I thank the Department of Health and our many partners for making today a reality,” said Gov. Ige, who visited both the traveling personnel and local healthcare employees who have been working on the frontlines since the early stages of the pandemic.

    “Our local healthcare employees have been working diligently, around the clock, making many personal sacrifices to ensure that the facilities they work in and our communities are safe and the spread of COVID-19 is prevented,” Gov. Ige said. “These traveling medical professionals will support and bolster Hawaiʻi’s healthcare workforce, should we experience a surge in cases.”

    DOH Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said: “All arriving personnel have met rigorous health and safety standards in the fight against COVID-19. They are licensed, fully trained and ready to work in Hawaiʻi’s long-term care facilities.”

    ProLink’s supplemental personnel who are working in Hawaiʻi’s acute care hospitals have already undergone orientation and are on the job across the state.

    Prior to greeting the incoming healthcare workforce, Gov. Ige thanked the employees of The Ching Villas, part of Ohana Pacific Management – a 119-bed post-acute care facility – and praised their commitment to Hawaiʻi’s kūpuna.

    “During this pandemic, Hawaiʻi relies on you and the many others who provide care for our vulnerable seniors,” he said. “We greatly appreciate your support in protecting public health as Hawaiʻi revives our economy and begins our recovery.”

    Ohana Pacific Founder Richard Kishaba said: “We are thankful that through our relationship with St. Francis, we were able to work with the state of Hawaiʻi and HAH to expand the capacity of our healthcare workforce. By working together, we can continue delivering great care to our community and kūpuna. This has been a trying time for all of us in the healthcare community, and it’s comforting to know that we now have extra support.”

    HAH President and CEO Hilton Raethel said: “On behalf of Hawaiʻi’s healthcare delivery system, we appreciate the foresight of Gov. Ige and the Department of Health. This staffing assistance should assure Hawaiʻi that we are prepared for anything that may occur, from a third wave of COVID-19 to a severe flu season. The healthcare workforce has been stretched thin since the onset of the pandemic, and these reinforcements are coming at the right time and with ideal skill sets.”

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