All 31 Maui COVID-19 Hospitalizations are Unvaccinated, 10 are 40 Years and Younger
By Wendy Osher
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Maui dropped from 39 yesterday to 31 today, but the recent surge in cases is taking a toll, hospital executives said.
“We are being challenged as every hospital in the state is being challenged,” said Michael Rembis, CEO Maui Health System during an media briefing on Tuesday night.
Of the 31 COVID-19 patients in the hospital as of Tuesday evening, all of them are unvaccinated. “We have seen an occasional vaccinated patient admitted,” he said. “The symptoms are mild and they usually are discharged in a few days.”
The age of those in the hospital is also now trending younger than it has in the past. Of the 31 patients in the hospital with COVID-19 on Maui, 10 of them are 40 years of age or younger. “This virus is affecting a much younger population that’s been very healthy,” said Rembis.
Gov. Ige recently attributed the shift to positive work in vaccinating the older demographic. During an update last week, he said, “What you’re seeing is the fact that the virus is spreading amongst those who are not vaccinated, and those who are not vaccinated tend to be age 18-40, and they’re the ones who are getting infected.”
Rembis shared that one of the COVID-19 hospitalizations involves a patient in their 30s with young children who is “struggling for their life.” He continued to urge vaccinations saying, “This is a very serious virus… It’s going to make a difference,” he said.
Capacity as of Thursday Night: 212 of 219 Beds Filled; Two Empty ICU Beds
While 212 of 219 beds were filled on Tuesday morning and there were only two empty beds in the Intensive Care Unit on Tuesday night, hospital executives say they are not at capacity, but acknowledge they are “very busy.”
“Fortunately, many patients are discharged each and every day. I can tell you that if you come into the hospital, you will be taken care of whether you have COVID or you don’t,” said Rembis, saying the hospital remains a safe place.
“It’s important to know that our emergency room is there for you. It is crowded. It is busy. This is the busy time of the year for us in general–when our visitors are here–and boy are the visitors back. So if you go to the Emergency Room, you may have to wait. You will be treated. Everything is in place to make sure that you are getting the care that you need,” he said.
If needed, Maui Memorial Medical center has a plan, which will enable it to go from our 219 beds to nearly 300 beds if needed. “That’s something we haven’t done. It’s something we really don’t want to have to do. And I’m confident that if we continue to focus on this we’re not going to have to do that,” said Rembis.
In terms of ICU space, Rembis said the hospital has two ICUs–one for COVID patients, and one for the general community. “If you have a heart attack, a trauma, a stroke, there’s always an ICU bed available. We always make sure we have one or two beds available each and every day. Right now we have two empty beds in the ICU,” said Rembis.
There are 17 ICU beds being used in Maui County at this time (out of 31 currently available). Five of the ICU beds are being used by COVID-19 patients. Nine ventilators (out of 38 available) are being used in Maui County, with two being used by COVID-19 patients, according to the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.
Maui Health reports that the 39 hospitalizations reported earlier this week was the largest number of COVID-19 admissions the Maui hospital has experienced throughout the pandemic.
Statewide, there were 324 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, (290 of them are unvaccinated).
Staffing: Help is on the way
While hospital executives maintain the Maui hospital is not at capacity, they say COVID-19 admissions are taking a toll on the hospital.
“We don’t have enough staff. Our staff is tired. They’re working hard. They’re putting in extra shifts. They’re doing everything they can to provide exceptional care to our community. It’s going to be like that until Monday,” said Rembis.
With the assistance of Mayor Michael Victorino and Governor David Ige, the MMMC is getting some help from FEMA in the form of 20 new nurses who will be coming on Monday, and another 20 the following week.
“What a respite that will be for our staff. But right now, the staff is tired, they’re stressed, they’re working hard. Taking care of a COVID patient is much more difficult than a general patient. You have to have them in isolation, you have to gown–it’s a lot of work–and they’re stepping up and doing an outstanding job. But the hospital is very busy,” said Rembis.
Maui Health will host a virtual Town Hall at 12 p.m. on Thursday, during which hospital administrators and staff will answer live questions. The hospital will be accepting questions via text and through the Facebook live comment feed. The best method to submit a question will be through text messaging at 808-214-3637, which can be sent in advance or during the town hall stream.