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KCH Reinstates No Visitor Policy Amid COVID Surge

January 19, 2022, 11:07 AM HST
* Updated January 19, 11:08 AM
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No Visitor policy has been reinstated at Kona Community Hospital as COVID-19 cases continue to surge on Hawaiʻi Island, once again.

As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, KCH had 16 patients being treated for COVID-19. One is currently in the ICU, 13 in the Med Surge Acute unit and two in Obstetrics. None of those hospitalized are on ventilators and nine of the individuals are vaccinated.

A cumulative total of 28 COVID-related deaths have occurred in KCH.

Hilo Medical Center is caring for a total of 22 COVID patients — 14 unvaccinated, eight vaccinated and one vaccinated with a booster shot. One of the patients is in ICU on a ventilator.

The hospital continues to be very full with COVID and non-COVID patients. The hospital opened four additional acute beds and is prepared to open up 24 additional beds if demand further exceeds capacity.

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Additionally, HMC welcomed 22 new personnel, funded through Federal Emergency Management Agency, to help in the omicron surge.

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On Wednesday, Jan. 19, FEMA announced that it has obligated the advance of more than $47 million to pay for nearly 1,000 state-contracted medical staff to assist hospitals in Hawai‘i that are struggling with the omicron surge of COVID-19.

The advance funding represents half of the $95.8 million sought by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health at the request of the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency managed and facilitated the emergency funding request to FEMA as part of the State’s COVID response.

The funding is part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program to reimburse eligible costs for emergency personnel assisting with COVID response work. Allowable expenses covered by 100% federal funds during the pandemic include medical surge personnel to supplement existing staff at hospitals to reduce or eliminate the spread of the virus.

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DOH sought the funding to deploy 955 medical personnel from Jan. 10, 2022, until April 1, 2022. Personnel hired under the DOH contract with ProLink Healthcare began deploying to Hawaiʻi hospitals in the past week.

DOH and HIEMA asked to have 50% of the funding – $47.9 million – obligated in advance to expedite payment to the medical personnel, whose services have been in high demand as the omicron variant has sent COVID infections rocketing to new highs around the world. FEMA on Wednesday confirmed that those advance funds have been obligated.

“We really appreciate all the partners on the (FEMA) Region IX Team,” stated Luke Meyers, HI-EMA Administrator. “These resources will be vital as we continue to battle the current COVID-19 wave.”

Today’s funding follows last month’s announcement of more than $37 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan for 391 health care providers to provide care for families across the state.

“As we continue fighting the pandemic, it’s critical that our hospitals have the resources and staffing they need to provide high-quality care to families across Hawai‘i,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This new federal funding will help hospitals hire more nurses and medical staff and keep people healthy.”

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