Big Island Coronavirus Updates

FEMA Funds Staffing Shortages at KCH, HMC to Assist in COVID Surge

August 18, 2021, 8:27 AM HST
Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio...

Additional staffing has come to aid Kona Community Hospital and Hilo Medical Center as the two hospitals continue to address an influx of COVID-19 patients.

The health care workers, funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency, arrived Monday, Aug. 16. Thirty-three critical care nurses and three respiratory therapists went to KCH. Eleven nurses and one respiratory tech, specializing in caring for COVID patients, have been put to work at HMC.

At KCH, the newly arrived staff spent Monday orienting and were deployed to nursing units Tuesday. For the next eight weeks, these clinicians will be helping to provide care for COVID patients admitted to all units in the hospital.

“We’re so thankful to ProLink Staffing and Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) for coordinating this FEMA-funded emergency staffing project to address critical staffing shortages at KCH,” hospital officials stated.

There were 13 COVID-19 patients at KCH, according to the hospitalʻs last hospitalization report on Aug. 13. There were four in ICU and nine in the Med Surg acute unit. Three of the patients are on ventilators.


The cumulative total of COVID-related deaths at KCH is nine.


KCH currently has no plan to offer the COVID-19 booster shot. Officials advise residents contact their nearest pharmacy or primary health care provider.

According to HMC, the workers that arrived at the Hilo hospital came from across the mainland to help staff care for the influx of COVID patients. A second wave of 14 additional relief workers is expected to arrive in two weeks.

“The strain, stress and exhaustion our staff has experienced over the last 18 months has been further exacerbated by this delta surge and those in our community who have yet to be vaccinated,” HMC stated. “Our staff has been putting in many overtime hours and extra shifts to care for our patients and they will be getting well-deserved respite and time with their families with the assurance that our patients will be in expert hands.”


The HMC COVID unit has expanded from 16 to 18 beds. According to HMC officials, the hospital reported six COVID admissions, the most in one day since the pandemic started. Five were discharged.

“Our ICU, Progressive Care Unit, Medical Unit, and Surgical/Peds Unit have been running at capacity,” HMC officials stated. “Our Emergency Department remains busy, seeing the most one-day total of 21 positives yesterday (Monday).”

As of Tuesday, Aug. 17, HMC is treating 19 COVID-positive patients — 16 unvaccinated and three vaccinated.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Mahalo for Subscribing


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments