Maui Coronavirus Updates

Maui Hospital Still Busy; Kaiser Permanente Postpones Non-Essential Surgeries on Maui

By Wendy Osher
August 27, 2021, 3:35 PM HST
* Updated August 30, 8:44 AM
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Maui Memorial Medical Center. Emergency Room. PC: Wendy Osher (8.16.21)

CLARIFICATION: *Note: Kaiser Permanente is postponing elective procedures and surgeries on Maui. This is specifically for Kaiser and does not impact the Maui Memorial Medical Center or Maui Health. 

Maui Memorial Medical Center continues to remain busy with COVID-19 patient care and other, non-COVID patient medical needs.

As of Friday afternoon, 202 of the 219 beds available at the Maui Hospital were filled, and eight ICU beds were available; however that number is dynamic and moves up and down based on need and staffing available to accommodate occupancy. As of Friday morning, the Maui hospital was caring for 34 COVID-19 positive patients with six in the Intensive Care Unit and two on ventilators.

Over the last 10 days, the hospital went from 50% of patients being younger than 60 years old to more than 70%, according to Maui Health. “This recent surge is infecting our younger residents more than any other time during the pandemic. Younger people who are seemingly healthy, yet unvaccinated,” said Tracy Dallarda, spokesperson for Maui Health.

Frontline Worker Describes COVID Care from Within

MMMC frontline workers caring for COVID-19 patients say the that by the time patients seek care, they’re struggling to breathe.

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“This virus is so frustrating; It’s invisible, yet devastating. Imagine having to think about breathing, having to use every muscle and effort in your body to try and get some air into your lungs. Nothing else matters, but air, not eating, drinking, moving, using the restroom – nothing, but air. And the air you get is minimal because your lungs are so inflamed, even in our young patients. It’s like sucking through a tiny straw – a lot of effort for a little oxygen,” said Lydia Brandes, RN in MMMC’s ICU for 20 years.

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As one of the many ICU nurses dedicated to caring for COVID-19 patients, Brandes says she has seen firsthand the impact of COVID-19 and how some have a severe reaction to the virus, while others have no symptoms – and sometimes within the same family.

“It’s like musical chairs, the music starts, stops, and someone will be without a seat – that’s COVID. It can infect anyone, cause severe disease and even death in some, and no symptoms in others. So why take that chance?” said Brandes, saying she hopes more people get vaccinated or, at the very least, stay home and avoid potentially spreading the virus.

“I have been an ICU nurse for 20 years, always with MMMC and caring for my community. This virus is scary, and unlike anything we’ve seen. We must do everything we can to stop the spread,” she said.

Help from Surge Staff / Surge Capacity Plans

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The first wave of FEMA surge staff was scheduled to arrive on Maui this week, with an additional wave of nurses arriving next week and more the following week.

If needed, Maui Memorial Medical Center has a plan, which will enable it to go from our 219 beds to nearly 300 beds. Dallarda said that under the plan, existing space would be converted and expanded for patient care, including outpatient treatment areas, the emergency department, expanded current nursing units, and the use of medical grade tents.

PC: Maui Health

Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi taking steps to care for COVID-19 patients
Postponing Elective Procedures and Surgeries on Maui

Meantime Kaiser Permanente is making changes at Moanalua Medical Center and on Maui to ensure there are enough resources needed to take care of COVID-19 patients.

Kaiser Permanente announced that it will be initiating a “phased approach” of postponing non-urgent surgeries and procedures at Moanalua Medical Center. Due to the increasing pandemic surge, Kaiser Permanente on Maui is also postponing and rescheduling all non-essential or “elective” procedures and surgeries as well as some specialty and primary care appointments. Changes at both Moanalua and Maui take effect on Monday, Aug. 30. 

“As we continue to work through the most severe surge of the pandemic thus far, we’re taking steps to meet the health care needs of our patients and the community,” said Zamir Moen, MD, Chief of Medical Staff at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center in a press release.

According to the health care provider, hospital leaders are monitoring the situation, and pending COVID-19 case counts and hospital admissions, they could postpone more non-emergency surgeries and procedures in the coming weeks.

Maui Lani Kaiser Drive Through COVID-19 testing. PC: Wendy Osher (Aug. 2021)

According to Kaiser, patients with existing appointments, procedures or surgeries do not need to call or email their provider. Any patients affected by these changes will be contacted by the health care provider.

Staff freed up by these changes will reportedly be “redeployed” to other areas to meet the critical COVID-19 care delivery needs as well as assist with testing, same-day and urgent care, and vaccinations. These changes are expected to remain in place for the next several weeks.

“We’re at a critical stage,” said Dr. Moen. “We need to stop COVID-19 transmission in the community to prevent our entire health care system from becoming overwhelmed.” He also continued to issue a similar plea as Maui Health saying: “Please get vaccinated, wear your mask, and avoid large gatherings.” 

MMMC’s vaccine clinic is now offering the third dose to immunocompromised eligible individuals. The vaccine MMMC clinic accepts walk-ins and is open: Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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