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Employee at HMC’s Behavioral Health Unit Tests Positive for COVID-19

August 29, 2020, 3:38 PM HST
* Updated August 29, 4:22 PM
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A staff member with Hilo Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Unit tested positive for COVID-19, hospital officials confirmed Saturday afternoon.

The staff member, who worked several shifts prior to learning of the positive test, was exposed to the virus through the community and informed unit leaders on Friday.

The Behavioral Health Unit is an inpatient psychiatric facility caring for patients with behavioral health needs, which is separate from the main hospital. Per HMC protocol, hospital spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said, they immediately began testing patients and staff at the facility.

All testing was completed Saturday. Cabatu said they are not accepting admissions to the unit as they await test results. Additionally, the unit is cleaned daily with hospital-grade cleaning products, all according to CDC guidelines.

“Nursing Supervisors and managers are checking in on the staff and units regularly to make sure their needs are being heard and met,” Cabatu told Big Island Now Saturday.

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HMC now has a total of 17 COVID-19 patients — four are in the ICU and 13 are being treated in the designated COVID-19 unit at HMC. Cabatu said three of the patients are residents from Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

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A cluster was identified at the VA home earlier this week where 23 residents and eight employees tested positive for the coronavirus. The rest of the residents are being cared for at the veteran home’s COVID designated area.

The majority of the VA home’s results have been received from the retesting completed on Aug. 27-28 with some results still pending.

“The leadership and dedicated staff at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home are taking all the appropriate steps to manage and contain this outbreak,” Cabatu said.

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With the increase in cases in Hilo, there doesn’t appear to be a shortage of COVID-19 tests at this time.

“Clinical Labs has been extremely responsive and has met all of our testing needs,” Cabatu assured.

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