KCH Looks to Grow Staff Through Specialty Hires, New Accredited Program

KCH Looks to Grow Staff Through Specialty Hires, New Accredited Program

By Tiffany DeMasters
November 9, 2021, 2:00 PM HST

Hospital is looking at long-term solutions to expand and bolster its workforce.

As the last of the federally-funded health care workers leave the island this week, KCH has begun efforts in building out staff, from starting recently graduated nurses in specialty units to offering a nine-month surgical tech program.

Stephanie Irwin, KCH Director of Education, said the hospital is looking at hiring in more specialty areas, including the emergency room. For the first time in KCH’s recent history, the hospital hired a newly graduated nursing student from Hawaiʻi Community College at Palamanui in 2020 into the behavioral health unit, which is considered a specialty.

“There’s a nursing shortage and being able to start someone in a specialty area is exciting,” Irwin told Big Island Now.

KCH hires about three nurses a year from the nursing program at Palamnui. Officials say these new hires typically work six months in the Med Surge Acute unit before moving into a specialty.

The last graduating class at Palamanui in May brought in three nurses as RPN II’s. Aside from the specialty unit hire, the remaining two were assigned to Med Surge Acute units.

“The newly graduated nurses are assigned to a senior nurse who will orient them for six months,” said KCH spokesperson Judy Donovan. “Once their six-month orientation is completed, they will be RPN IIIs.”

Kathleen Kotecki, retired associate professor of nursing from Palamanui, said while there is a need for nurses, there is a shortage in positions available for newly graduated nursing students. The idea of moving new nurses directly into specialty units may help with that as KCH is not limited to just those positions offered to new health care workers.

“Looking at the big picture, we’d have to expand the program so we could graduate more students,” Kotecki said. “Getting more admissions to the nursing program is key. We need new, younger nurses.”

Additionally, Donovan said the goal is to hire three graduated nurses every year with the hope to increase the number to five.

“We will continue this practice in an effort to grow workforce from (within) our local community,” Donovan said.

In an effort to grow from within, KCH will begin its newly accredited surgical tech program, which is set to start in August 2022 with three students, who are currently employed at KCH. Upon completion of the program, the health care workers will be certified to be integral members of the surgical team at KCH.

Irwin said this will be the only program of its kind on the Big Island. It will also be the first accredited program launched at KCH.

“This is a specialized employee position that is difficult to fill,” Donovan said. “Currently, we have a full-time surgical technologist who is also an instructor. We recognized the opportunity to develop a program that will fill an existing employee gap.”

Irwin, a Palamanui nursing graduate, has worked at KCH for 12 years. While it can be wonderful to hire nurses outside the state, Irwin said it can also be hit and miss as they come and end up not staying on the island.

“But when we hire within, itʻs amazing how long they stay,” Irwin said.

KCH currently has 10 full-time positions open, including in the ICU, ER, floats and imaging. Additionally, the in-house lab, Clinical Laboratories is struggling with staffing.

Donovan said the hospital started with 42 FEMA-funded clinicians during the spike of the coronavirus cases over the summer, including critical care nurses, respiratory therapists and imaging staff. Nine of those workers remain as a majority of the health care workers left two weeks ago.

With their contract officially ending on Thursday, Nov. 13, Donovan said four of the FEMA-funded workers have expressed interest in converting to a standard agency contract.

Hawaii hospitals to serve as COVID-19 vaccination hubs for independent health care workers

Hawaii hospitals to serve as COVID-19 vaccination hubs for independent health care workers

State health officials have set up vaccination hub sites at Hawaii hospitals in an effort to rapidly administer COVID-19 vaccines to independent health care workers.

The state Department of Health and Healthcare Association of Hawaii are working with hospitals in each county to ensure independent health care providers and their staff can receive the first dosage of their vaccine this month as part of the first phase of the vaccine rollout.

Hawaii’s hospitals, which are using the Pfizer vaccine for health care workers, will also serve as hubs for independent providers to receive their second, follow-up dosage 21 days later.

After health care workers and long-term facility residents and staff are vaccinated, the state will then administer COVID-19 vaccines to seniors 75 and older, along with front-line workers including first responders, corrections officers and teachers. The state plans to begin vaccinating seniors 75 and older in the next week or so.

Independent health care providers and staff who have not yet received a vaccination should complete an online survey developed by the Department of Health in order to start the process.

The information collected from the survey will be sent to the hospital closest to a provider, and the hospital will then reach out to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Those who have already completed the survey, however, should not submit it again.

Health care providers and staff at independently operated care homes and foster homes are being vaccinated through a separate process.

The vaccination hub sites by counties include:

>> Kauai: Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall (visit Kauai.gov/vaccine);

> Honolulu: Adventist Health Castle, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Pali Momi Medical Center, Straub Medical Center, and The Queen’s Medical Center-Punchbowl and West Oahu;

>> Maui: Maui Memorial Medical Center, Molokai General Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital; and

>> Hawaii island: Hilo Medical Center, Kona Community Hospital and North Hawaii Community Hospital.

Health care providers with a Kaiser Permanente health plan can make an appointment for vaccinations at Kaiser’s Honolulu or Waipio clinic by calling 432-2000, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

545 Kona Community Hospital employees test negative for COVID-19

See story by West Hawaii Today

545 Kona Community Hospital employees test negative for COVID-19

By Laura Ruminski West Hawaii Today lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com | Sunday, July 19, 2020, 12:05 a.m.                                 

https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/07/19/hawaii-news/545-kona-community-hospital-employees-test-negative-for-covid-19/

Kona Community Hospital said Saturday that all but three of the 548 COVID-19 tests administered to staff on Thursday have come back negative for the virus.

The other three tests remain pending, with two outstanding and still with the lab and the third under review, according to hospital spokesperson Judy Donovan. Those results will be reported when results are confirmed with the lab.

Additionally, KCH nursing tested all 43 inpatients on the same day as a precaution, Donovan said. All results were negative with the exception of one patient, whose status was previously reported.

“We are very pleased with today’s test results, and look forward to the final tests coming back from the lab.” said Interim Chief Nurse, Stephanie Irwin. “Our staff have trained diligently in best practices for infection prevention, and today’s results verify their level of commitment to providing safe care.”

Kona Community Hospital held the mandatory on-site COVID-19 testing clinic for all staff and affiliated employees, physicians and contractors working on campus after three employees tested positive for the virus. Dr. Scott Miscovich and the Premier Medical Group Hawaii operated the pop-up testing clinic for staff.

On Saturday, a pop-up testing clinic to screen hospital families, visitors and discharged patients as well community members concerned about potential COVID exposure was held on Saturday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Donovan said results of Saturday’s testing will not be available until at least Monday. An estimate on the number of persons who came to the event wasn’t available as of press-time Saturday.

In order to keep staff and patients safe and ensure that the hospital is “COVID-free,” KCH and Premier Medical Group Hawaii will conduct up to three additional on-site testing clinics. Additional testing, which is the “gold standard” for detection.

On Monday, all staff providing direct patient care will be retested because they are considered high risk. On Friday, all hospital personnel, affiliated staff, providers and contractors will be tested again.

Depending on results from those tests, additional testing may be conducted on July 30.

The hospital still has a no visitor policy in place with exceptions for OB, pediatrics and those receiving end-of-life care.

 

Kona Hospital testing all employees, providers after 3 test positive for COVID-19

See story by West Hawaii Today

‘We needed to test everybody’: Kona hospital testing all employees, providers after 3 test positive for COVID-19

Hawaii Life Flight nurse volunteer Lori Cannon tests a Kona Community Hospital employee for COVID-19 on Thursday. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

By Laura Ruminski West Hawaii Today lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com | Friday, July 17, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

In a swift reaction to the news that three employees at Kona Community Hospital tested positive for COVID-19, the facility’s entire staff was tested for the coronavirus on Thursday.

Hospital spokesperson Judy Donovan said leadership learned of the first positive test on Friday and when the second confirmed case showed up on Tuesday, the team sprang into action.

“After the first confirmed case, we began to mobilize internally with track-and-trace,” said Donovan. “After Tuesday, we knew we needed to test everybody.”

That is when the hospital reached out Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group, which has been conducting pop-up screenings throughout the state and is an international COVID testing consultant.

“He said, ‘we’ll take care of everybody,’” said Donovan.

Within two days, Miscovich and his team were set up to test the Kealakekua hospital’s 470 employees plus providers, contractors, vendors and patients.

“We’re testing the full facility, 100%,” said Miscovich. “We are here to give the community assurance that the hospital will be 100% COVID-free.”

Members of the Hawaii Fire Department, EMS and the National Guard and volunteers joined Premier Medical Group staff from Oahu and the Big Island to conduct the seamless tests.

“We need to find the clusters of asymptomatic patients and isolate them because they can pass the virus to others,” said Miscovich, explaining that the virus has a five- to six-day incubation period and approximately 40% of those infected are asymptomatic. “This is how the state and county needs to address it.”

He added they are not going to stop this process until there are no active cases.

“We want this to be the model for the state,” Miscovich said of the effort.

Critical area employees, those who work in intensive care unit (ICU), emergency room, respiratory therapy, medical/surgical, imaging and lab started the testing day at 5:45 a.m. Thursday. Those employees were given the rapid test and nasal swab. If the rapid test indicated a positive result, the employee was to be immediately isolated.

Batches of nasal swabs were flown to Honolulu throughout the morning with results expected in 24 hours.

Interim Chief Nurse Executive Stephanie Irwin said the hospital’s goal was to quickly sweep through the staff.

“We want to take care of our community because our community has a partnership with us,” she said.

Follow-up tests will be performed in four days for staff in critical areas and in eight days for all employees.

Premier Medical will also have a pop-up drive-through test clinic from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday at the West Hawaii Civic Center parking lot. The event is geared toward family of staff, patients, visitors and anyone who came through the hospital on or after July 8 and may be concerned about possible exposure.

Irwin said those coming to Saturday’s testing should bring their insurance card and ID.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 204 patients at KCH have been tested with six positive results for COVID-19, Donovan said. Three of those cases were inpatient with the remaining three outpatients coming through the emergency room and able to isolate at home.

The hospital still has a no visitor policy in place with exceptions for OB, pediatrics and those receiving end-of-life care.

“We are doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” said Jay Kreuzer, the hospital’s acting CEO.

Kona Community Hospital receives $5M from feds

See story by West Hawaii Today

Kona Community Hospital receives $5M from feds

Kona Community Hospital was one of two hospitals in the state to receive a combined $11.9 million in new federal funding to support health care services for vulnerable and low-income individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

KCH and Straub Medical Center on Oahu received the funds as part of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, according to a press release from U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

Hospitals that serve a disproportionately high number of Medicaid patients or provide large amounts of uncompensated care are eligible for this safety net allocation from the Provider Relief Fund.

“One-third of the patients served at Kona Community Hospital are Medicaid/Quest patients. Additionally, 3% of our patients are uninsured,” said KCH Chief Financial Officer Dean Herzog.

KCH received $5 million on Friday. Herzog said the funds will be used to offset the lost revenue the hospital is experiencing because of a reduction in surgeries, out-patient procedures and in-patient days resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schatz said the two medical centers serve as safety-net hospitals, providing care to individuals regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay for health-care services.

“Kona Community Hospital and Straub Medical Center play an essential role in providing health care to our most vulnerable residents on the Big Island and Oahu,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “With hospitals on the front lines of this global health crisis, this federal funding will provide important resources to make sure they remain operational so that everyone can get the care they need regardless of their ability to pay.”

In addition to this funding, Hawaii health providers have received more than $200 million in federal grants to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including funding to acquire personal protective equipment, cover testing and treatment, support rural hospitals, and other response efforts.

 

Hometown Heroes: Anne Broderson is fighting for our health

 

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has been said that if you want to get something done to ask a busy person. Anne Broderson, a cardiac nurse practitioner at Alii Health Center, is one of those people.

Not only has she organized the biggest annual blood drive in the state, her efforts have made Alii Health’s drive-through COVID-19 testing the most successful on the Big Island.

“The energy and passion she has used in the medical field for years gave her the right tools to create from the ground up a COVID-19 testing and screening program that helps us deal with a once in a lifetime world Health crisis,” said Jeramy Madrid with Alii Health. “Every week she facilitates dozens of screening and Testing for COVID-19 all the while balancing a full clinic in Alii Health Centers Cardiology department. She is an amazing person who puts passion first that we are grateful that she’s fighting for our health first and foremost.”

Broderson was nominated by Dr. Brett Carey, chairman of the health service committee at the West Hawaii Community Health Center because of her commitment to the community.

“She was the genesis behind getting the COVID testing with Alii Health,” said Carey. “If it wasn’t for Anne I don’t know what we would have done to open it up and test more community members.”

Carey said he had some connections with Premier Medical which organized the first drive-through at Old Kona Airport Park.

“All’s I did is help to introduce them through email and Anne took it from there and ran with it,” he said. “I think she is someone in our community that whenever she sees a need she takes action really quickly and puts these initiatives together that normally would have big groups and meetings and committees. She just makes things happen.”

“I see a need that the community is lacking and it feels wrong not to act on it,” said Broderson, also noting that it was Carey who 3D-printed face shields and N95 masks used by personnel. “I’ve been able to rally the troops and be a good collaborator with outside agencies.”

Under Broderson’s leadership, Alii Health has performed well over 2,000 tests, the largest county testing by volume since their first testing on March 28.

“Alii Health Center is very fortunate to have Anne as a provider,” said Alii Health Center executive director Clayton McGhan. “Her outstanding contributions to our organization as well as the community through her involvement with the COVID-19 testing has not only raised community awareness, but also created a collaborative healthcare environment. She is a true ‘Hometown Hero!’”

Previous to spearheading COVID testing, Broderson organized the annual Elvis Sheppard blood drive in honor of her best friend Jen Davis’s fiancee who died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash in 2017.

“She is one of my very best friends in life,” said Davis. “She was there the day I met him and she was there the day he passed.”

At the time of the accident, Broderson was working at Kona Community Hospital.

“It was a tragic thing to happen to anybody — let alone my best friend’s fiancee,” she said.

Broderson said 78 units of blood were given to Sheppard, enough to fill a human body several times over.

“The blood products was the only thing that was going to give him a chance, and in treating Sheppard, the supply of platelets at the hospital was exhausted. I drove to Hilo that night to get more. We got back and gave him the units we got from Hilo, but it was already too late,” said Broderson. “I thought how can we give the next person in this situation a better chance?”

The morning after Sheppard died, Broderson and Davis decided they needed to do something.

“There were about 50 of his friends gathered in the hallway wanting to donate blood,” said Broderson. “That’s where the idea was born. If nothing else we wanted to at least restock the shelves for what Elvis used.”

Davis said the first blood drive was July 4, 2017.

“The blood drive was Anne’s baby from conception; to being liaison with the Blood Bank and what needed to be done. It became her passion project,” said Davis.

After the first year, they decided that it needed to be an annual endeavor.

Last year, 299 donors attended the drive, making it the biggest blood drive in the state.

“It was pretty incredible. She is so smart she is able to identify where the need lies and cares so much for her community that she jumps right in and takes ownership of these massive undertakings that you never see anybody doing,” said Davis. “She’s so intelligent she just knows exactly what needs to be done and makes it happen. She’s really a remarkable woman.”

They were planning on having the annual drive this year, but the Blood Bank had made the decision that they were not going to go to any outer islands due to the pandemic.

In addition to all the organizing Broderson has done, she has been fundraising for trauma services at Kona Community Hospital.

“Our intention for all the money that has been raised is to get a bereavement program up and running at Kona Hospital,” she said.

The program would support family members experiencing sudden death of a loved one navigate through the process, where now there is no guidance, providing someone who is a dedicated person to stay with the family to answer all their questions and offer support.

All of this while working full time as a cardiology nurse practitioner.

A gift from the heart: Anonymous donor secures, transports thousands of masks for front-line worker

A gift from the heart: Anonymous donor secures, transports thousands of masks for front-line worker

By Special to West Hawaii Today | Monday, May 25, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

https://www.westhawaiitoday.com/2020/05/25/hawaii-news/a-gift-from-the-heart-anonymous-donor-secures-transports-thousands-of-masks-for-front-line-worker/

Dr. Frank Sayre, center, distributes sterile surgical masks donated by an anonymous donor to the Keauhou Fire Station. Courtesy Photo

Tens of thousands of sterile surgical masks have reached Hawaii Island’s front-line workers thanks to an anonymous donor.

The donor flew in 54,000 masks on May 13 and another 36,000 masks on Saturday that are being distributed to front-line response teams through the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation.

To date, PPE supplies that have been nearly impossible to obtain have been provided to the Hawaii Fire Department, Hawaii Police Department, Kona Community Hospital, North Hawaii Community Hospital, Kohala Hospital, Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center, Alii Health Center for Cardiology, Orthopedics, Obstetrics/Gynecology Pediatrics, Gastroenterology and General Surgery, HOPE Services; and numerous medical, dental and veterinary offices.

These masks are among over 600,000 pieces of needed PPE that the donor secured at a cost of approximately $25 million to allow essential workers to “get back to work safely.“ It is part of the donor’s company’s philosophy to give back to communities and to continue to make a difference in the world.

Hawaii Fire Department Chief Darren Rosario and Battalion Chief Bill Bergin coordinated these efforts with Dr. Frank Sayre and Laura Mallery-Sayre, founders of the Daniel R. Sayre Memorial Foundation.

“It has been a true honor to be a part of this amazing effort to protect lives during this COVID-19 pandemic. We have such gratitude for our donor and his amazing heart!” Laura and Frank said.

COVID-19 crisis suppresses visits to Big Isle hospitals, clinics

COVID-19 crisis suppresses visits to Big Isle hospitals, clinics

 By STEPHANIE SALMONS Hawaii Tribune-Herald | Monday, May 18, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

Fewer patients are visiting Big Island emergency rooms and urgent care clinics due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and that is having a negative impact on their revenue.

Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., said Hilo Medical Center averaged between 4,000 and 4,200 visits a month prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. David Ige.

The hospital is now averaging between 2,800 and 3,000 visits, a 38% to 40% percent decline.

“It’s understandable, given the request for the governor’s order to stay at home,” Brinkman said. “I think a lot of people have taken that very serious, as we can see with the low COVID rates on our island, and I think our community has done a really good job following those directives.”

Because of those directives, Brinkman said people are limiting activities. There are fewer accidents, no more cruise visitors and fewer trauma injuries.

That’s resulted in fewer emergency room visits, but Brinkman said he’s concerned some patients are following the stay-at-home order to their detriment and seeking care after waiting far too long to do so.

“We’re seeing less overall patients in the ER. However, of the patients that we see, we’re admitting a higher percentage of them because they’re sicker.”

Brinkman said there’s been an increase in the number of patients admitted from the emergency room — up from about 12% to 17%-18%

“It’s a phenomenon that’s happening across the country,” said Brinkman. “Patients are sicker, waiting perhaps a bit long for their care. It’s understandable, but we’re hopeful as the community starts to reopen (and) some of the restrictions are lifted, that trend will reverse itself and people will feel more comfortable getting the care they need.”

But a decline in patients means a big hit to the hospital’s finances.

Brinkman said the hospital is projecting a $26 million drop in revenue through the end of the calendar year.

“We’ve seen declines in our elective surgeries, in clinic visits. Collectively, it’s cost us a lot.”

That projection, however, could balloon should there be a surge in COVID-19 cases.

According to Brinkman, combined revenue for the East Hawaii Region, which also includes the hospitals in Ka‘u and Honokaa, is around $260 million.

The hospital has received $21 million in federal funding as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“That will offset a good portion of that $26 million, which is good news,” Brinkman said. “We also started this whole crisis in pretty solid financial condition, so we have some reserves.”

HMC’s goal is to avoid reductions in services or layoffs or pay cuts, despite the persistence of the virus threat, he said.

“We’re hopeful we can manage that transition, because all hospitals are going to have to adjust their services, adjust how they’re going to do their business. Our goal is to do that without disrupting the health care in the community.”

Elsewhere in Hilo, declining patient counts are having a similar impact.

“As far as the numbers are concerned, we’re probably down about 60% of the patient load we normally see,” said Brenda Dunne, director of operations at Hilo Urgent Care.

Revenue is down about 60%, too.

Looking into her parking lot Friday, Dunne said there was maybe one car that didn’t belong to her staff, “which is really scary, because normally Monday and Friday are our busiest days.”

Typically, she has two doctors and three nurses working those days, but had to cut back to one doctor and two nurses.

“We’re happy that people are being safe, but as far as business is concerned, I don’t know how we’re going to do it if it continues to be this way,” Dunne said.

Making the situation more difficult, Dunne said, is the clinic’s income is based solely on patients who visit.

“If we don’t have patients coming in, we don’t have income coming in,” she said. “Every single patient are our paychecks. We do not have any funding from the state or from the federal government. That’s a huge hit for us.”

The clinic did apply for and received help from the Paycheck Protection Program, a U.S. Small Business Administration loan that helps businesses keep their workforces employed during the COVID-19 crisis.

“… When that is out, we shall see,” Dunn said.

The number of emergency room visits are down in other Big Island hospitals, too.

At Kona Community Hospital, a part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., emergency room visits are down as well.

Chief Financial Officer Dean Herzog said the hospital’s emergency room had about 65 visits per day before stay-at-home orders were implemented but now have about 30.

Admissions also decreased from about 300 per month to about 200, and demand for all services is down by about 33%, he said.

Herzog said, too, that all hospital revenues are down by about a third, but federal stimulus dollars will help offset the losses. He did not say how much money the hospital will be receiving.

Apart from COVID-19 testing, which is available in its emergency room, ER visits to Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea have decreased between 20% and 30%, spokeswoman Lynn Scully said.

Like HMC, Scully said NHCH’s biggest concern is making sure people get the care that is needed and not waiting.

“It is usually easier to treat things earlier instead of waiting,” she said. “Emergencies don’t stop because of a pandemic, and we would like the community to know that their local emergency rooms are open and available for people’s urgent needs 24/7.”

 

Medical staff honored with flyover

Medical staff honored with flyover

By West Hawaii Today Staff | Saturday, May 16, 2020, 12:05 a.m.

Staff from two Hawaii Island hospitals made it outside Thursday to see the Hawaii Air National Guard and 15th Wing Active Duty Airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam perform a flyover in a salute to all frontline workers battling COVID-19.

The KC-135 Stratotanker flew over Kona Community Hospital and North Hawaii Community Hospital Thursday afternoon as part of routine training sorties.

Inspired by the Air Force’s Operation American Resolve Salutes campaign, the flyover was intended to provide a salute to all the health care professionals, frontline responders, and essential personnel working to keep everyone safe and healthy during these unique times.

 

Kona Community Hospital reports first inpatient case of COVID-19

Kona Community Hospital reports first inpatient case of COVID-19

The patient tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday, according to a statement provided by KCH spokeswoman Judy Donovan. The patient, a resident, has no history of travel.

The adult, who is in stable condition, is the first COVID-19 patient to be admitted to the Kealakekua hospital.

“Kona Community Hospital has been actively preparing with our federal, state, and county partners to respond to a confirmed novel coronavirus case since February,” said Infection Prevention and Employee Health director Lisa Downing, RN, in a statement. “Our top priority is maintaining the health and safety of our staff and patients.”

The state Department of Health’s on-call virologist was consulted and is supporting the hospital’s care management of this patient that includes precautions to protect patients and staff, Donovan said.

According to the statement, the hospital’s house supervisor, emergency department and medical unit leadership and staff were all briefed upon notification of the positive test. All precautions were reviewed with the infection prevention director and the incident command team leader.

The hospital is currently following its emergency plans, which include minimizing the number of employees who enter the patient’s room; following precautions defined by CDC that include standard, contact, airborne and eye protection; and isolating the patient.

The hospital’s House Supervisor, Emergency Department and Medical Unit leadership and staff were all briefed upon notification of the positive test. All precautions were reviewed with the infection prevention director and the incident command team leader.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health announced Thursday afternoon one new case of COVID-19 on Hawaii Island, bringing Hawaii County’s total to 68. Of those cases, 39 have been cleared and released from isolation.

Including the admission announced Thursday, two Hawaii County individuals have been hospitalized. The first was a worker at McDonald’s in Kona who tested positive and was transported earlier this month to Oahu for treatment, according to state Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson, who has stated repeatedly the case will be included in Hawaii County’s tally.

The new Big Island case was among four new positive cases announced statewide on Thursday. One case was on Oahu and two were on Maui. All are adult residents.

Hawaii has now recorded 596 cases of COVID-19 since Feb. 28. Six of those cases were Hawaii residents diagnosed outside of the state.

To date, more than 26,600 people have been tested by private and state laboratories for the novel coronavirus.

No new COVID-19-related deaths were reported Thursday. The statewide death toll remained at 12.