Pop-Up COVID-19 Screening Clinic to Come to Kona Postponed

March 19, 2020, 1:43 PM HST (Updated March 19, 2020, 8:12 PM)
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COVID-19 testing at North Hawai’i Community Hospital. (PC: Lynn Scully, NHCH)

Premier Medical Group Hawai‘i has planned its first neighbor-island pop-up COVID 19 drive-thru screening clinic in Kona after a successful event in Kaneohe on March 15.

Slated for March 23, the screening/testing program will set up at Old Kona Airport Park at 8 a.m. and run till 3 p.m.  The event is open to the public, however individuals must meet certain criteria in order to be screened.

“The fact is, we need to screen to know where the disease is. That’s the key,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, president and founder of Premier Medical Group Hawai‘i.

Individuals who come to be screened Friday don’t require a physician’s order to be tested. Anyone who comes to the screening needs to bring their ID and insurance cards if available. This event isn’t for those who are healthy and don’t meet any of the other criteria for testing.

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“We have to be respectful of this process,” Miscovich said.

Miscovich is also senior advisor to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, directing the outpatient response to COVID-19. His drive-thru event in Kaneohe last week was started as a pilot program to create mobile clinics to test widely for the novel coronavirus. The plan is to provide the COVID-19 screening drive-thrus as need demands.

While testing for the novel coronavirus has been happening sporadically on the Big Island, screening and testing sites were established islandwide on Monday.  Miscovich said he wanted to come to Kona because there was a need to broaden reach to the community as they haven’t been adequately covered.

Dr. Kaohimanu Akiona is a member of Premier Medical Group with roots on the Big Island. She said having the event at Old Airport allows the team to reach out to the homeless population.

“They’re the most exposed and least likely to get screened,” she said.

The goal, Akiona said, is to come back and do pop-up clinics in the more rural areas to provide the critical support needed on the island.

If a screening deems testing, Akiona said, the doctors will swab. Testing is reserved for those who meet the following criteria:

  • Dry Cough and fever (the most common symptoms) but you may have other upper respiratory symptoms.
  • If have recently returned from anywhere in Asia or Europe. (China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Germany, France and Iran represent high risk countries).
  • Travel within the US to Washington State highest risk, but all flights from any US destination to Hawaii is moderate risk.
  • Working in the health profession.
  • Working in a skilled nursing facility.
  • Workers in direct contact with waste management, including hotel workers.
  • First responders.
  • Prisons, jail, correctional facility.
  • Working directly with the homeless population.

Miscovich provided a Hawai‘i-specific criteria, which includes workers in high-trafficked tourism, such as: bellmen, front desk, housekeeping, retail, restaurants, TSA agents, flight attendants, airport counters, UBER/CAB drivers and more.

As state leaders look at how to respond to this crisis, Miscovich said, they don’t want to be like Italy where deaths have skyrocketed and put the entire country on lockdown. The state hopes to emulate South Korea, where the country has pushed to screen every resident.

“They screened everyone and that’s why they were able to get it under control,” Miscovich said.

State leaders believe increased screenings will slow the spread in the Hawaiian Islands.

“To beat this is to screen, screen, screen,” Miscovich said.

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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