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Queen’s preps COVID-19 unit for ‘second wave’ of patients

  • COURTESY THE QUEEN’S HEALTH SYSTEMS
                                Hawaii Medical Serv­ice Association donated $1 million to The Queen’s Health Systems in support of the expansion of the infectious disease program at The Queen’s Medical Center’s Punchbowl campus.

    COURTESY THE QUEEN’S HEALTH SYSTEMS

    Hawaii Medical Serv­ice Association donated $1 million to The Queen’s Health Systems in support of the expansion of the infectious disease program at The Queen’s Medical Center’s Punchbowl campus.

Hawaii’s oldest hospital will convert a space dedicated to COVID-19 patients that would be ready by September.

The Queen’s Medical Center’s project is an infectious disease unit, which aims to address the much-needed care for COVID-19 patients, during what health officials call “a second wave” of coronavirus cases. The unit also will address the shortage in medical resources, and will be used for future emerging viruses.

“The biggest challenge is that we’re in the middle of a second wave, and each week an increasing number of COVID patients need hospitalization at Queen’s,” Jason Chang, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Queen’s Health Systems, said in an email.

The need for capacity became more urgent after health officials predicted that hospital care beds will be overrun by the end of the month.

Chang hopes the unit will be completed at least by the end of September to help with the “second wave.” He also expects future surges and anticipates the infection prevention unit to be “a tremendous asset for our patients and our caregivers.”

Located on the ninth floor, the 30,000-square-foot unit will have 24 private isolation rooms to care for one patient each.

“Having private, negative pressure rooms will prevent patients from spreading the infection and protect our staff,” Chang said. “All COVID patients are grouped in cohorts to best protect our other patients and also by acuity level.”

The unit will staff 10 to 20 people.

The total cost of the project is $12.7 million. The costs include planning and design, consultations with infectious diseases specialists, renovations for patient care rooms and isolated anteroom areas for caregivers. Costs also include specialized equipment such as negative air machines, High Energy Particulate Arrestors, monitoring systems, exhaust systems and a variety of personnel training initiative.

Recently, Hawaii Medical Service Association donated $1 million to support the program. The money will go toward the development of the unit, which will feature negative pressure technologies, double-filter entrance and exit ways, and multiple sanitization and decontamination areas for physicians and staff.

“In these challenging times, it’s difficult to find extra dollars anywhere for anything,” Mark Mugiishi, president and CEO of HMSA, said. “But when it’s to support the community, you just do it. It’s why we’re very proud to support The Queen’s Medical Center in the fight against COVID-19, to keep us healthy and safe for generations to come, as they’ve been doing so wonderfully during this pandemic.”

The design will have Airborne Infection Isolation Rooms or “cleanrooms” that filter air for coughing patients. The unit also will add two negative pressure rooms and three private rooms.

Still, the state has seen cases in triple digits for the past two weeks.

Hawaii set another record with 231 cases Saturday, increasing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 3,346.

There were 223 cases on Oahu, 5 on Hawaii island and 3 on Kauai, according to the state Department of Health

The death total is 31.

On Thursday, 117 people statewide were hospitalized for the coronavirus, with 115 on Oahu. Health officials worry that ICU beds on Oahu could reach capacity by the end of the month.

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