Maui Coronavirus Updates

On-Site Oxygen Generator Installed and Tested on Maui, to Supplement Demand

By Wendy Osher
September 8, 2021, 7:41 PM HST
* Updated September 9, 5:29 PM
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PC: Maui Health

Maui received an on-site Oxygen Generator last week and was able to install and test the unit successfully this week, according to Maui Health.

“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.

The on-site Oxygen Generator will be another medical oxygen source to supplement the current supply at the Maui Memorial Medical Center. In addition, Maui Health reports that “clinical leadership is addressing methods to improve oxygen use efficiencies based on the appropriate standards of care.” 

“There was a concern about the supply of medical grade oxygen in the state,” said Governor David Ige during an afternoon news briefing on Wednesday. He acknowledged Matson Shipping, and medical gas producers AirLiquide (AirGas) and Matheson Tri-Gas, for working with the state in ensuring medical grade oxygen could be provided to health care facilities.

Gov. Ige said the state has now secured an adequate supply of medical grade oxygen, following the delivery of two ISO (International Organization of Standardization) containers on Oʻahu on Sunday. This supply, he said, meets the supply needs for the next week or so.

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“We continue to work for a longer term solution,” said Gov. Ige. “Right now we are using more oxygen than we can generate here in the state. We are implementing additional measures to ensure that we have the oxygen we need to provide care to COVID patients. We’ve acquired oxygen generators, which will be deployed to hospitals across the state. We’ve asked the local producers to maximize production of liquid oxygen–and AirGas and Matheson has agreed to do that.”

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Gov. Ige said he continues to work with private and federal partners to acquire additional shipping containers and ensure a constant supply of medical grade oxygen to the community.

“A plan was developed by the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency. We did identify a number of contingency programs and efforts that we had to be prepared for, and certainly oxygen was one of them. I think what happened was the increased use in oxygen, which really was driven by the significant increase in the number of cases, is what was not anticipated. We did not anticipate that in the course of four weeks or six weeks that we would go from 40 cases a day to 1,000 cases a day in that kind of time frame. Many of the plans were in place, but clearly the rate at which the cases increased was not fully anticipated and caused the challenges that we had,” said Gov. Ige.

Last week, Maui Health reported that oxygen consumption had increased nationwide due to the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Maui Memorial Medical Center was 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.”

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Meantime, the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency reported last week that daily consumption statewide for medical grade oxygen, which is 99% pure, has increased approximately 250% since the beginning of August.

Sunday’s delivery was expected to contain approximately 3,500 gallons of medical grade oxygen. Another two ISO containers were scheduled for arrival by today. State officials from the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency reported last week that, “Depleted containers will be flown back to the mainland for refilling before shipping back to Hawaiʻi, creating a rotating supply for use across the state.”

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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