Maui Hospital Prepares Now to Mitigate Oxygen Needs, Potential Rise in COVID Care
* Updated September 1, 6:46 PM
26 COVID-19 Patients at Maui Hospital;
Recent Case Surge Could Translate to 46 Additional Hospitalizations w/in Next Two Weeks
As of this morning, Maui Memorial Medical Center is caring for 26 COVID-19 positive patients with six in intensive care and one on a ventilator. This is a reduction in COVID-19 hospitalized patients from last week, but the surge continues throughout the state.
Maui County had 467 new cases from Monday through Friday of last week alone. Maui Health administrators say research has shown that about 10% of positive cases will likely need hospitalization within 10-14 days of virus onset. That could translate to 46 additional hospitalizations within the next two weeks. “There is concern that with the upcoming holiday weekend, the cases will continue to surge, and hospitalizations will continue to rise,” according to Maui Health.
The MMMC vaccine clinic has experienced an increase in vaccine administration, with 476 doses administered last week. Nearly 200 of those were for the third dose currently being administered to immunocompromised individuals. *(See below for information on the difference between a Third Shot and a Vaccine Booster).
Outpatient elective procedures and surgeries continue at MMMC, with daily monitoring to ensure resources are available for inpatient and outpatient needs. Please note – MMMC outpatient elective procedures and surgeries are not being postponed at this time.
(Note: As of Aug. 30, Kaiser Permanente on Maui began postponing and rescheduling all non-essential or “elective” procedures and surgeries as well as some specialty and primary care appointments. This is specifically for Kaiser and does not impact the Maui Memorial Medical Center or Maui Health.).
Administrators at Maui Health say resource management, which includes PPE, staffing, and medical supplies continues to be a priority. There is a statewide concern regarding the supply of medical oxygen for patient care use.
Oxygen consumption has increased nationwide due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. MMMC is currently using about three times more oxygen than normal, which administrators say “is directly related to the rise in hospitalized COVID-19 patients – 109% increase from July to August.”
The medical oxygen supply for Maui Health is delivered every week from Airgas on Oʻahu with assurances that the current oxygen consumption will be maintained. In addition, Kaiser Permanente is sending an on-site Oxygen Generator to MMMC, with shipment expected later this week. The on-site Oxygen Generator will be another medical oxygen source to supplement the hospital’s current supply.
“We are doing everything we can to mitigate any possible future oxygen shortage and are grateful to Kaiser Permanente for helping with this effort,” said Mike Rembis, Maui Health CEO. In addition, clinical leadership is reportedly addressing methods to improve oxygen use efficiencies based on the appropriate standards of care.
“Maui Health is positioned well to maintain current medical oxygen supplies, while also utilizing a new on-site medical oxygen system that will further augment any potential increased need,” according to hospital spokesperson Tracy Dallarda.
What’s the Difference Between a Third Shot and a Vaccine Booster?
Maui Health Officials offered further information about vaccinations, explaining the difference between a third shot and a vaccine booster.
“There is a third shot available for folks who are severely immunocompromised… Third dose means that the first two doses didn’t get your antibody levels where they need to be because you have immunocompromised. There’s studies that recently came out that show that certain people are not going to generate antibodies if they’re on medications that suppress their immune system. And there are specific medications,” said Dr. Shea.
Those who are interested can talk their physician to see if they qualify. If they do, that third shot is available at the Maui Health clinic on Mondays and Fridays, between 9 a.m. and noon or 1 to 4 p.m. No appointment is needed.
“The booster shot is for those of us who got a shot back in December or January or thereafter. We got a normal immune response, but over time, about eight months later, we’re starting to see a waning of that immune response. The booster is to get those antibody levels back up to where they need to be,” said Dr. Shea.
Maui Health administrators say they are not yet authorized to give booster shots, but suspect that’s coming soon. “I promise you, as soon as we are able to give it to you, we’re going to put that on every media outlet available and make it freely available to everybody. We currently have plenty of doses of vaccine, so there shouldn’t be a shortage,” said Dr. Shea.