Kona Community Hospital Not a Testing Site

March 17, 2020, 12:15 PM HST (Updated March 17, 2020, 12:34 PM)
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COVID-19 testing at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. (PC: Lynn Scully, NHCH)

Kona Community Hospital is not doing public testing for COVID-19, hospital officials confirmed this morning.

At 10:58 a.m., the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency put out a text alert indicating KCH as well as North Hawai‘i Community Hospital and Hilo Medical Center were testing sites for the novel coronavirus on the Big Island. However, Judy Donovan, KCH spokeswoman, said they don’t have the infrastructure to provide public testing.

KCH is screening everyone who comes into the facility and providing testing for inpatients. Donovan said the hospital isn’t accepting prescriptions for a testing. A test will only be conducted if the person is admitted to the hospital and has symptoms.

The hospital has limited points of entry for visitors and one visitor is currently allowed per patient. All those who come to the hospital are screened.

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“What we’re concerned and planning for is an influx in patients,” Donovan said.

The hospital is prepared to create a triage center for flu/COVID-19 patients. All of this, Donovan said, is about limiting exposure.

Donovan said she’s never seen anything quite like this.

“This is probably the most prepared they (Department of Health) have ever been for a response,” Donovan said.

Testing at North Hawai‘i Community Hospital started on Monday where 15 samples were taken. Hospital spokeswoman Lynn Scully said the facility hasn’t seen a huge influx in patients, however they are seeing more people coming to the hospital to ask questions.

The drive-through testing is on the hospital campus. People pull up in their vehicles, a sample is taken by a medical professional and they leave. The individual never leaves the car.

Scully wanted to remind the public that testing isn’t intended for everyone and is reserved for those who present symptoms. All tests must have a physician’s order and if one goes to the testing site, don’t get out of the vehicle.

“They wait in the comfort of their car,” Scully said. “We come to them.”

Scully said she expects numbers to go up and the hospital is preparing for higher volume if need arises.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.

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