Another Hilo Veteran Succumbs to COVID-19

September 2, 2020, 3:16 PM HST
* Updated September 2, 3:44 PM
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Hilo Medical Center’s COVID Unit (left to right): Jarett Morales (Medical Unit), Michael Palmerston (Progressive Carr Unit), Keely McGhee (Surgical/Pediatric Unit), Maraea Castro (Surgical/Pediatric Unit), and Casey Agpoon (Environmental Services). (PC: HMC)

Another Hilo veteran diagnosed with COVID-19 is dead, bringing Hawai‘i Island’s death toll to four.

As the number of coronavirus hospitalizations at Hilo Medical Center trends down — two in the ICU and six in the hospital’s COVID-19 unit — officials confirm four staff members from various departments in the facility have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes the HMC’s Behavioral Health Unit staff member who tested positive last weekend.

HMC Spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said staff members learned of their diagnosis through community testing and alerted their supervisors.

Each case is being managed by contact tracing, appropriate testing, and monitored by Employee Health, HMC officials stated Wednesday. Employees are quarantining at home. Self-test kits were made available to employees caring for COVID-19 patients.

At this time, Cabatu said, the quarantined employees have not impacted HMC staff.


“We can handle four staff being out,” she said.


Cabatu assured HMC is open for patient needs and the facility is still a safe place to come for care.

A cluster was identified at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home earlier last week. A total of 46 residents and 12 employees have now tested positive for COVID-19 after a round of retesting done this week revealed 18 additional residents and two employees were determined to be infected.

The four veterans who died from the virus also suffered significant, underlying health issues.


“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of these veterans who served our country,” HMC officials stated Wednesday.

No veterans are being treated at HMC and are currently being care for at the VA home’s COVID-19 designated area.

Additionally, HMC’s Behavioral Health Unit is set to restart admissions Wednesday afternoon.

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