Kaiser Permanente sends coronavirus experts to Hawaii affiliate hospital battling cluster

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente is sending experts to Wailuku, Hawaii-based Maui Memorial Medical Center amid a COVID-19 outbreak at the hospital, according to Honolulu Civil Beat.

On April 13, Hawaii News Now reported that the cluster at Maui Memorial, an affiliate of Kaiser, had grown to 34 after two additional healthcare workers and another patient tested positive for COVID-19. Citing a letter from the hospital's CEO, HNN reported April 14 that now at least 36 people are linked to the cluster, including 27 employees and nine patients.

The team Kaiser is sending to Maui Memorial includes members of the healthcare giant's national COVID-19 command center as well as infectious disease experts. It brings expertise caring for COVID-19 patients in Seattle and Santa Clara, Calif., among other places, according to Civil Beat, citing a news release from the hospital's communications director.

The team will reassess Maui Memorial's operations, and a COVID-19 command center will oversee issues including patient safety, workforce health, PPE supply, internal policies and compliance with CDC guidelines, according to Civil Beat. It will also implement a public communications plan to raise awareness among community members about COVID-19.

Testing of staff at Maui Memorial who do not have symptoms has not been widespread, according to Civil Beat. The investigative news site reported that healthcare workers have expressed concerns about what they consider a slow hospital response to require workers to wear personal protective equipment, and say the hospital told some workers not to wear it. Additionally, an online petition started by an ICU nurse at Maui Memorial seeks the immediate resignation of four of its leaders, alleging that the hospital is jeopardizing the safety of healthcare staff and the Maui community. As of 9:47 a.m. CDT April 16, the petition had 5,850 signatures.

In a news release April 10, the hospital said it "has been following CDC guidelines regarding the use of personal protective equipment" and is "committed to supporting our employees, keeping them safe and helping them through this pandemic."

 

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