Relief nurses to help with staffing as Maui logs 26 COVID-19 hospitalizations
With staffing impacts and a steady count of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Maui, measures to stay ahead of the latest impacts are currently in motion.
As Maui County continues to experience an increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate which is now the highest in the state at 22.5%, Maui Memorial Medical Center is also caring for more COVID-19 patients.
“For perspective – just one month ago, MMMC was caring for four COVID-19 patients, all unvaccinated. Today, we are caring for 26 COVID-19 patients, 12 are fully vaccinated and two of those individuals received a booster dose,” said Maui Health spokesperson Tracy Dallarda. She notes that the boosted individuals are not at the hospital for COVID-19 and were admitted for other medical reasons. “Their COVID-19 status was discovered upon routine testing of all inpatients upon admission.”
Statewide, there are 352 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 140 vaccinated and 212 who are unvaccinated, according to an update provided this afternoon by Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. This represents a -21% difference from the peak of 448 on Sept. 4, 2021. According to his data, there are 37 individuals in the ICU, approximately half the rate of what was experienced during the delta surge. There are also approximately 12 COVID-19 positive individuals on ventilators.
“Omicron is about five times less severe, however with so many cases, we still have a lot of people in the hospital,” said Lt. Gov. Green in a social media update this afternoon.
During the delta surge, hospitalizations at Maui Health rose to 41 COVID-19 positive patients in mid-August, with multiple patients in the ICU. On New Yearʻs Eve, Maui had 12 hospitalizations. Today, there are 26 patients hospitalized, including two COVID-19 patients in the ICU (one vaccinated and one unvaccinated), and one vaccinated individual on a ventilator.
As is typical for this time of year, the MMMC census is busy with non-COVID-19 admissions and emergency department visits as well. As the hospital handles its regular high volume of patients, hospital representatives say the emergency department admissions have increased to pre-pandemic levels with an influx of individuals with COVID-19 concerns.
Staffing has been impacted as well.
“As Maui residents, employees are also contracting the virus circulating throughout the community and remain isolated at home. FEMA nurses should be arriving next week and more the following week to offer relief staffing, just as in past surges. We are unsure how many relief nurses we will receive but are grateful for any number to assist with staffing,” said Dallarda.
In Maui County, the seven day average for new cases daily is 496, with a 22.5% test positivity rate over 14 days. This is +203% from Dec. 29, 2021-Jan. 11, 2022. For every 100,000 residents in Maui County, there have been an average of 296.5 newly reported cases per day over a seven day period.
While daily numbers are high for Maui County, the seven-day average has decreased slightly. The hospital, still, is preparing for further impacts.
Dr. Michael Shea, chief medical director for Maui Health and co-lead for the Emergency Operations Center team said, “I do not believe Maui County’s COVID-19 numbers have peaked. Based on the experiences we are watching throughout the world – South Africa, the UK, and areas on the mainland – where the surges began before Hawaiʻi, we are at least a few weeks from our peak. However, this peak timing will ultimately depend on what precautions our community takes to prevent spread.”
Lt. Gov. Green said the Health Care Association of Hawaiʻi, with the Department of Health is bringing in 250 nurses or respiratory therapists on Jan. 17, and then another 250 on Jan. 24 to assist across the state. “Over time, we may get as many as 900 extra health care workers to help us,” he said in a daily update posted to his social media / Instagram account.
Maui Health maintains that the COVID-19 vaccine is “the best protection against contracting the virus.”
“If you have not been vaccinated, please reconsider. If you have been fully vaccinated, please get your booster dose,” hospital administrators advise.
The Maui Memorial Medical Center, Main Lobby Vaccine Clinic continues to provide Pfizer vaccine to all eligible residents:
- Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- No appointment needed; walk-ins are welcome during clinic hours.
- Administering first, second, third and booster doses to all qualified individuals.
- To qualify for a booster dose, you must be at least 12 years old or older and five months past your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months past your single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
- Pediatric dose available for ages 5 to 11.
- Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
For additional information about other test sites or vaccination clinics, visit mauinuistrong.info.