Hawai‘i is bolstering the ranks of its hospital staffs statewide as the COVID-19 pandemic continues with no clear end in sight.
The state Department of Health is administering $14 million to provide more than 200 additional nurses and other specialists for hospitals across all islands over the next four months. Some of the out-of-state personnel will begin arriving as soon as this weekend, DOH said in a press release.
Gov. Ige approved the award of funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund earlier this week. The money, provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will provide vital healthcare capacity.
DOH, in collaboration with the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i, contracted ProLink Healthcare, a Cincinnati-based healthcare staffing company, to provide specialized personnel for Kuakini Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center, Adventist Health Castle, Hilo Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, Straub Medical Center, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, and Pali Momi Medical Center.
The majority — more than 85% — of the positions are for medical-surgical nurses, critical care nurses, and telemetry nurses. The remaining positions include respiratory therapists, emergency department nurses, and dialysis nurses. The breakdown includes 70 critical care nurses, 61 telemetry nurses, 71 medical-surgical nurses, 17 respiratory therapists, nine emergency department nurses, and five dialysis nurses.
“As Hawai‘i faces increases in hospitalizations due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Health wants to be sure our hospitals have sufficient surge capacity,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Char, Director of Health. “During their time here, these experienced healthcare staff will be providing critical patient care as well as respite for our dedicated local healthcare workforce.”
The supplemental staff will be deployed in two waves. A total of 134 individuals will arrive in the first wave from Sept. 26 and Oct. 4, and work in Hawai‘i for two months. In the second wave, about 100 personnel are scheduled to arrive on Nov. 1 and will also be in Hawai‘i for two months.
As essential workers, the out-of-state traveler nurses will be allowed to work with an exemption from the mandatory 14-day quarantine, and they will be regularly tested for COVID-19.