Maui Health CEO: “We Have Not Had a COVID-19 Positive Patient Admitted to the Hospital for Over 70 Days”
A radio segment featuring executives and doctors with Maui Health runs Thursdays at 7:19 a.m. on KPOA 93.5 FM. The series provides updates and answers questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week’s guest is Michael Rembis, Chief Executive Officer, Maui Health.
Q: Has our hospital received any funds from the government to boost the quality and ability of our health care in response to the virus?
A: We sure have. This has been a challenging time for us financially as you can guess. It’s the same for all hospitals. The last three months we had a significant drop in our revenues, but the federal government came through with about $11 million in CARES Act funding; and our state legislature is trying to come up with some additional subsidies for us as well. We probably lost about $25 million in net revenue just in three months. So the help from the federal government and from our state legislators is going to make a big difference.
Q: What is the capacity at Maui Memorial Medical Center?
A: That’s been a hot topic lately. Everyone is concerned about our capacity–probably because of a potential surge in the future. Right now I can truly share with you that we’re not at maximum capacity or even near it. We are at a census right now that is slightly below our pre-COVID-19 census. I think some patients are coming in to get their elective procedures, but we’re not at capacity. And with the lack of visitors, we’re very fortunate–the community is–with the visitors gone we have additional capacity. Our emergency room is significantly below traditional volumes and our hospital is not at capacity. The census fluctuates all the time. You’ll find some days we’re 80% full, other days 60% filled–It just depends. We discharge patients every day and admit patients every day, but we’re not at capacity and we are at a position now that if we have a surge of any sort, we have a surge plan and can appropriately handle it.
Q: In the ICU, what’s the percentage of beds that are available?
A: As of this morning, our census is only 77%. All together, we have 31 ICU beds and our capacity right now–we have 17 occupied and 12 available.
Q: Is it still a case if they’re over it, healed, not to be heard from again?
A: Once they no longer have the virus, they should be fine, but the state continues to list all the people that have been positive on each island. So when you see those numbers every day that DOH provides, they’re giving us the total number that have been infected on each island. The vast majority are no longer in isolation, they no longer are positive and they can go back to their normal lives. But we do still have those numbers being tracked. If you want additional information, just visit hawaiicovid19.com–it’s a state site that will give you a lot of information
Q: How does Maui Health track these cases to determine if they’re either active or recovered?
A: When they come into the hospital, if they have symptoms severe enough to be admitted, we do track them and isolate them in the hospital, make sure they’re in the appropriate area to meet their medical needs. Most patients that we test that are positive–their doctors will advise them to go home and quarantine themselves and take care of them. The vast majority of the patients that have COVID-19 are not hospitalized. And if we identify someone that’s sick, and they may be sick and positive with COVID-19, or if they’re not sick enough to be admitted, most of them go home and they recover very well. So we follow those patients that are in the hospital until they are discharged. If they go home, the Department of Health does contact tracing and they follow them.
Q: What are some of the things that Maui Health is putting in place in case there’s another surge?
A: By the way, as far as tracking patients, I’m happy to say that we have not had a positive patient with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital for over 70 days–that’s over two months. We’re very blessed on the island.
We have a whole group of physicians, administrators, nurses (and) professionals developing a surge plan. That surge plan will show how we can expand the capacity of our hospital. Even though we are not at capacity now, we watch the news like everyone else does and we need to be able to expand our capacity if ever needed. We are licensed for 219 beds and we have a plan that can increase our capacity to 300 patients a day. So we have physicians, nurses and we have a crisis team ready to be activated and a plan ready to implement should it be needed.
Q: When the DOH releases the number of new cases each day, does that mean that they tested positive or are they having symptoms requiring hospitalization?
A: No. When they release those number of patients that are positive, that’s just what it is. They’ve tested positive. Many of them, we don’t even see in the hospital. They’ve been tested at one of the clinics or physician offices. Their physician then makes a decision whether they’re sick enough to come to the hospital, or they can go home and recover. The vast majority, again, are going home and recovering. Few positive patients–as a matter of fact, as I’ve said, we haven’t had a positive patient for 70 days. So the ones you’ve seen lately have been identified as positive on Maui are at home and quarantined and being followed up by their own personal doctor and being monitored by the Department of Health.
I have to tell you, I think the hospital is the safest place on the island. We check every person coming in–whether you’re a physician, a few of our rare visitors (because we’ve restricted visitors) or an employee–everyone is checked for symptoms, temperatures, everyone wears a mask in this hospital all the time and that will continue for a very long time. The safety of our employees and this community is the first thing and priority for us in this community.
- Thursday, July 2: Dr. Jennifer Mathieu, an OBGYN with Maui Lani Physicians and Surgeons and OB Department Chair for Maui Health
- Thursday, July 9: Dr. Michael Shea, Intensivist and Immediate Past Chief of Staff at Maui Health.
*Note: KPOA 93.5 FM is part of the Pacific Media Group family of radio stations. Pacific Media Group is the parent company of Maui Now.