545 Kona Community Hospital employees test negative for COVID-19

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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.

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.

Update from West Hawaii Region Board of Directors

Jay Kreuzer, Acting CEO West Hawaii Region

On April 3, 2020, the HHSC West Hawaii Region Board of Directors named Jay Kreuzer into the role of Acting CEO of the West Hawaii region, which includes Kona Community Hospital and Kohala Hospital.

The Board decision was made in order for then-Acting CEO, Linda Rosen, MD to return to her full time position as CEO at the HHSC corporate office on `Oahu.

Frank Sayre, DDS and West Hawaii Region Board Chair said the decision to have Kreuzer step into the Acting CEO role provides seamless coverage for the Region, which is crucial during the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sayre said, “We’re very appreciative of Dr. Rosen’s leadership and guidance over the past several weeks, but understand her need to get back to her full time responsibilities.”

Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center and Kona Community Hospital partner to accept masks

Beginning Friday, March 27, 2020, the Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center (KASC) and Kona Community Hospital (KCH) will be partnering to collect donated surgical masks and N-95 respirators.

The two healthcare organizations are seeking surgical masks and N-95 respirators in original, unopened packaging to augment supplies at KCH should additional supplies be needed.

Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center has been designated as the drop off site for donated items. Donations will be accepted Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 4:00pm. The surgery center address is 75-5905 Walua Road, Suite 4 in Kailua-Kona. Donation receipts will be provided.

Please contact KASC clinical manager, Nadine Calloway Reese at (808) 331-7960 or by email at nreese@konaasc.com.

“The community has expressed so much interest in helping during this unprecedented time,” said Katherine Cholet, KASC Administrator. “We’re humbled by that, and also happy to help Kona Community Hospital in their preparations for a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.”

Operating rooms of the future: Kona hospital unveils $6M renovation project

Kahu Kealoha Kaopua blesses the newly renovated operating room at Kona Community Hospital at Thursday’s unveiling.Kahu Kealoha Kaopua blesses the newly renovated operating room at Kona Community Hospital at Thursday’s unveiling.Kona Community Hospital unveiled its newly remodeled state-of-the-art operating rooms Thursday morning.

Over two years of planning and construction went into the complete renovation and upgrade of the Kealakekua-based facility’s three operating rooms at a cost of about $6 million. The majority of that funding came via the state capital improvement project fund with the Kona Hospital Foundation supporting some of the cost.

“We are pleased we can bring you these new services, having 21st century services for our community,” said Chief Nurse Executive/Associate Hospital Administrator Sean McNeal. “We are very invested in delivering the best possible care starting with the most high risk area.”

Currently, the Kona Community Hospital Surgical Services Department performs over 2,200 surgical procedures annually. Operating suites are equipped for inpatient, outpatient, elective and emergency procedures. Prior to the renovation, the OR was equipped with outdated equipment.

The construction began about 19 months ago by completely demolishing one OR suite at a time down to the studs.

Each suite was then rebuilt with brand new, state-of-the-art equipment and technology down to the OR tables. New technology includes equipment booms, air conditioning system, LED lighting system, and video integration to provide better images during surgery, just to name a few.

“Each OR was built with integrated technologies that create an improved, more efficient space,” said Charlie Cholet, RNFA, and director of Surgical Services.

The biggest change to the rooms is the integration package. Surgery is all about having the right information, whether it be X-rays, lab results, history or other information, Cholet explained.

In the past, a doctor would have to walk up to a screen to look at an X-ray, then walk back to the table or stop to read the patient’s chart. Now, the information that the doctor needs is at his fingertips. Any information they want to see is on a monitor in front of them instantaneously. That efficiency could cut the OR turnover time by half.

“The complexity of the rooms is outstanding, between the air exchanges, HEPA filters, flooring, everything is in the name of patient safety, said McNeal. “That’s the key message we want to drive home is that we care enough about our community that we want to keep them safe, especially during something as possible for harm as surgery. We are blessed to have this facility and share it with the community.”

Because the new technology cuts the time a patient spends in the OR, it in turn reduces the risk for complications and infection.

“Any time you are under general anesthesia, it’s not a normal situation for your body,” said Cholet. “The longer a surgery takes, the greater the chance for infection, so by decreasing the time, we decrease the risk.”

Cholet said KCH is in the process of expanding a number of procedures it can undertake in the facility, including joint replacement, hand surgery, urology, expanded gastrointestinal and minor vascular procedures.

Plans are to keep a procedure room, created when construction was underway to maintain three operating rooms, to handle things such as pediatric dental and GI. With the additional room and efficiency from the new integrated system, Cholet said the surgical unit will be able to accommodate more procedures.

And the modernized rooms will help attract and keep more surgeons at the hospital.

“When surgeons considering coming here and saw what we had, it wasn’t a selling point,” Cholet said. “This is.”

Added McNeal: “Stay tuned. It’s only going to get better.”