Hawaii health system declares internal emergency as beds fill up

The Queen's Health Systems in Honolulu said it is rescheduling nonemergency surgeries and taking other safety measures after a surge in COVID-19 patients prompted it to declare an internal state of emergency. 

The health system, which has more than 8,000 employees statewide, declared the state of emergency Aug. 20. At the time, Jason Chang, system COO and president of Queen's Medical Center, told reporters the declaration "means that all hands are on deck," according to the Star-Advertiser.

He said the health system is rescheduling nonemergency surgeries to free up resources for other care areas, but patients with traumas, heart attacks and strokes will continue to be admitted. 

"Our intensive care unit capacity fluctuates on any given day and time. We remain committed to providing care by constantly evaluating our operations to ensure our doors remain open to those in need of emergency care. Our highest priority is the health and safety of our patients and caregivers," said Mr. Chang. 

Mr. Chang said 63 patients went to the 24-bed emergency department at the Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu at one point recently, including 26 suspected COVID-19 patients.

Amid the COVID-19 surge, Queen's Medical Center said it erected a triage tent outside its emergency department to help care for more potential COVID-19 patients.

Hawaii officials said more than 500 out-of-state healthcare workers will also be deployed to 19 hospitals statewide with federal funds.  

Queen's Health Systems is expecting 74 relief nurses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to arrive Aug. 23, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Read the full Star-Advertiser report here.

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