COVID-19-Related Deaths at Hilo VA Home Continue to Climb

September 4, 2020, 2:21 PM HST (Updated September 4, 2020, 2:21 PM)
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ICU nurses Tiffany Martinez and Charlie Adler are taking good care of COVID patients in the ICU today. Tiffany says, “With all the precautions and training we’ve had throughout our career, we feel confident in taking good care of our COVID patients.” (PC: Hilo Medical Center)

A total of six Hilo veterans are now dead after contracting COVID-19 and a fifth Hilo Medical Center employee has tested positive for the virus.

For the past few days in a row, HMC has reported a coronavirus-related death at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. A cluster was identified in the home in August and as of Sept. 4, 47 residents and 18 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

The latest death occurred in the late evening of Sept. 3. Officials say the veteran suffered from 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 in regards to the latest fatality.

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Forty-one of the residents are currently being cared for at the VA home’s COVID-19-designated area. There are no veterans currently hospitalized at HMC.

Hospitalizations are back up with three patients in HMC’s ICU and eight in the COVID unit.

Five total staff from various departments have notified HMC of their positive COVID-19 test results, most likely contracted in the community. The employees are quarantining at home and each case continues to be managed by contact tracing, appropriate testing and monitored by Employee Health.

Staff concerned they may have been exposed to the coronavirus may contact Employee Health for an assessment and to schedule an appointment for COVID testing. Testing for Extended Care Facility staff is scheduled for next week per new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements to protect nursing home residents.

As of Friday, HMC officials say there are no cases of the virus in extended care.

Increased community testing will continue throughout the island. The purpose of testing is to identify positive cases as early as possible and in this way help stop the spread of the virus and to provide early treatment.

Premier Medical Group will host a free COVID-19 drive-through clinic at Kea‘au High School on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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