Maui Hospital Administrators Encouraged by Test Positivity Rate, but Urge Vigilance
Maui’s test positivity rate went from an all-time high of 7.1% on Sept. 4, down to 4.5% on Thursday.
“We’re happy to say that we’re starting to see a small decline in positivity in cases on Maui and throughout the state,” said Mike Rembis, Maui Health CEO during a virtual Town Hall meeting on Wednesday.
While he said test positivity is “moving in the right direction,” he urged vigilance saying the surge is not over. The number of cases on Oʻahu is still in the 300s daily. “We’re not considering this over. We just have a bit of a respite right now where we see the numbers starting to slightly decline.”
Rembis also expressed concern over a potential surge from Labor Day activity. “A surge, if it should occur, could occur as early as late this week or early next week. If we’re lucky, we won’t see a Labor Day surge, but we must be prepared,” he said.
According to Rembis, there is not a lot of testing happening on Maui or throughout the state right now. “Testing is at a premium throughout the country. So we think the positivity rate could be slightly higher because people unfortunately don’t have the same access to testing that we used to have,” said Rembis.
Hospital administrators offered a “gentle reminder” that the hospital emergency department is not a community testing site. According to Maui Health, the county is due to receive thousands of tests in the next week to help meet demand.
Testing on Maui is available at the following locations:
- LAHAINA: Lahaina Civic Center | Mondays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
- KIHEI: 1280 S. Kihei Road (behind Ace Hardware) | Thursdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
- KAHULUI: 348 Lehuakona St. (at Maui Marketplace) | Tuesdays & Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Must pre-register to be tested, visit https://www.minitmed.com/pre-register-maui-covid-19.
- WAILUKU: Mauliola Pharmacy | 95 Mahalani Street, Rm 10 | 7 days a week, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. | pre-register for appointment
FEMA in conjunction with state and local government, brought in additional staffing to help with care of COVID-19 patients. “The extra nurses coming in from the assistance of the federal government are providing respite to hospital workers,” said Rembis, noting that the surge staffing is for eight weeks, but may be extended.
Hospital officials also discussed the new “Safer Outside” restrictions on Maui that went into effect on Wednesday. Rembis called the new amended county rules “the right move,” saying, “if we see a resurgence in positivity, we think more restrictions should be put into place; but right now, this is a wise and appropriate move.”
“I want to remind everyone–we might be in a COVID surge, but the vast majority of the patients in our hospital and in our emergency room every day, do not have COVID,” according to Rembis.
Maui Health’s Emergency Operations Center, Chief Nursing Executive Marian Horikawa-Barth thanked the doctors, nurses and staff that continue to work through the current surge.
“You know it’s 18 months now, and we feel like it’s been forever. Things have changed so much here in the hospital and in our lives… Please everybody, remember that COVID is not over. I know sometimes we wish it was over, and sometimes when we watch different things on TV we think it may be over, but it’s not over. Patients are still very sick and we have seen so many young folks that tragically have gotten the disease and passed away. This year has been record breaking in this surge,” said Horikawa-Barth.
She advised that many of the COVID-19 patients that do get sick and are hospitalized, have a long recovery. “Many of them think that they are going to bounce back quickly, but the disease gets a hold of them and they get what we call long-haul or lasting symptoms. So they may be sick for not just weeks, but months,” said Horikawa-Barth.
Wade Ebersole, COO Maui Health gave an update on hospital operations. He noted that the Oxygen Generator, obtained through a partnership with Kaiser Permanente, arrived on Sept. 3, and was operational by Sept. 7, 2021.
The unit converts regular oxygen into medical grade oxygen, and is being used to augment current demands. According to Ebersole, the hospital’s supplier also confirmed that they will be able to supply Maui Memorial Medical Center with liquid oxygen to meet current demands.
Ebersole said the Emergency Department remains “consistently busy.” He said, “Even though we are busy, we have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.”
Maui Health also announced that it is partnering with Kaiser Permanente to create a monoclonal antibody treatment site. “We hope to have this up and running by early next week–possibly by the end of this week… This will be a site where people who have tested positive for COVID and meet certain criteria, will be able to be treated,” said Ebersole.
Kelly Catiel, Infection Control Manager at Maui Health discussed vaccine efforts, saying Maui Health has provided more than 65,000 doses of vaccine. On Maui, the DOH reports that 69% of the total population in Maui County has initiated a vaccine, while 58% have completed a full course of vaccination.
The vaccine clinic at Maui Health remains open on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 to 4 p.m. Third doses are being offered to individuals who are immunocompromised. Booster doses for healthy individuals who have already had two doses are not yet available to the general public. Additional vaccine sites available during the month of September are posted here.
“While we are seeing a decline in our community, we want to remind everyone to please do your part; stay safe; wear a mask when you’re out in public; watch your distance; and get vaccinated if you can,” said Catiel.