Ali‘i Health to Host COVID-19 Pop-Up Clinics Every Saturday

March 26, 2020, 3:15 PM HST (Updated March 26, 2020, 3:20 PM)
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Ali‘i Health Center will host a COVID-19 pop-up clinic at Old Kona Airport this coming Saturday, March 28, 2020.

The drive-thru event is part of a statewide push to complete screenings and testings over the next three Saturdays in an effort to slow the coronavirus pandemic. With Premier Medical Group at the forefront, they are partnering with local clinics on various islands to train them on how to operate these pop-up drive-thrus.

“We committed to do this every Saturday until the virus is contained on our island or we run out of resources,” said Anne Broderson, advanced practice registered nurse and cardiology nurse practitioner at Ali‘i Health. “These are the only efforts being taken to test in West Hawai‘i.”

To cut down on wait time, Ali‘i Health is offering prescreening by phone or Telehealth starting at 1 p.m. Thursday. The prescreening will be available until the clinic stops doing testing. Call 808-747-8321 and select option 5 for assistance.

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If a test is deemed necessary, Broderson said, individuals coming to the drive Saturday can bypass the screening line and go straight to get tested.

Broderson said no doctor’s order is needed, however individuals must meet requirements for screening and testing. there will be Ali‘i Health doctors on site assisting with screenings and testing. The drive will run from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday.

Fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, redness in or around eyes, sore throat, and diarrhea are the screened symptoms of COVID-19. Other factors that will determine eligibility for testing include travel history, frequency of exposure to visitors from outside Hawai`i, and frequency of exposure to vulnerable or high-risk populations.

People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show photo ID. Additionally, people are requested to bring any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required.

Premier Medical Group hosted Kona’s first screening and testing drive-thru on Monday. Broderson was at the event to learn how they were running the operation.

“Now we’re just trying to replicate it,” Broderson said. “We are still working with them (Premier Medical Group) for support and backing.”

The Ali‘i Health drives wouldn’t be possible without the support and donations of personal protection equipment (PPE) from the community.

“The community support from volunteers, medical professionals, those at Ali‘i Health and from every single organization has been tremendous,” Broderson said.

Broderson said this is a critical time for the Big Island community as the virus will either get out of control or be contained.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Hawai‘i Department of Health announced an additional 11 COVID-19 cases statewide, bringing the total number to 106. Hawai‘i County still has five — three are residents and two non-residents.

Broderson sees Hawai‘i’s numbers growing as results come in from Monday’s drive as well as their drive on Saturday.

Premier Medical Group screened 1,525 individuals on Monday and tested 299. Dr. Scott Miscovich, president and founder of Premier Medical Group Hawai‘i, said he anticipates results coming in today and Friday.

Miscovich is also senior advisor to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, directing the outpatient response to COVID-19. He said Monday’s drive in Kona saw people from all over the world. While many of them weren’t meeting the qualifications for testing, he said, the healthcare professionals were able to put people at ease just by answering their questions and concerns.

The public drives are still only screening people with symptoms, Miscovich said, adding individuals should stay isolated.

A 14-day quarantine started Thursday for those travelers coming to the islands, returning residents or visitors. Gov. David Ige also issued a mandatory stay-at-home order in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

With these mandates, Miscovich said, the state has effectively shut down the introduction of the virus into the Hawaiian Islands.

“If we keep screening, three to four days after that, you’ll be able to massively track the positives,” he said.

Dr. Kaohimanu Akiona, a member of Premier Medical Group, is working with Bay Clinic to host a drive in Hilo on Sunday. The screening and testing site will be located at Ho‘oulu Complex, 799 Pi‘ilani Street, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For a while there, Akiona said Hawai‘i and Maui Counties were dark spots and Premier Medical Group thought not enough screening was happening.

“If our state is closed, it’s good from an epidemiology stand point to screen the best we can,” she said.

Akiona hopes Hawai‘i has the COVID-19 case number under control. She said doctors are cautiously optimistic, however it’s hard to say since it took a long time to close the islands.

“We sound like Chicken Little, but it’s coming from the right place,” Akiona said. “We just don’t know if we’re on an incline or not.”

While hospitals on the Big Island continue to offer drive-thru testing, Broderson said, the public drives take pressure off those facilities as access to testing is limited and there are limits to PPE.

Judy Donovan, spokeswoman for Kona Community Hospital, said their facility isn’t being overrun with patients as they do not do public testing. However, she thinks once results come back from the drives, Donovan is hopeful it will give a clearer picture of what’s happening in the community.

 

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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