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VOICES: Prepared to care for the community

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaua‘i has been extremely fortunate to have the lowest number of COVID-19 cases of any county in the state. With the island rejoining the state’s Safe Travels program in April, and ultimately reopening to all travelers with a negative COVID-19 pre-test, there are growing concerns about the island’s preparedness should there be a surge in cases.

Let us assure you that your Kaua‘i hospitals are well-equipped and prepared to care for COVID-19 patients, as well as all of the health care needs of our community.

Lessons learned during the pandemic’s early months allowed us to plan and prepare for these needs, including testing, hospital beds, equipment and supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

When it comes to testing, Wilcox Medical Center has the ability to provide COVID-19 rapid testing and Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital (KVMH) provides COVID-19 rapid antigen testing. These rapid tests can identify people with higher viral loads and help prevent people from unknowingly spreading the virus. Wilcox also offers the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) on-site.

Between Wilcox and KVMH, we have 11 ICU beds, which we can increase up to 34 during a surge if necessary. We also have a total of 40 life support machines.

Both facilities have UV sterilization technology available for cleaning and disinfecting purposes.

We also have an adequate supply of PPE, and are in close contact with hospital partners throughout the state to coordinate supply and equipment needs if necessary. In addition, Life Flight is available for any patients who need to be transferred to O‘ahu for a higher level of critical care.

Perhaps the most valuable resource available to us is our health care workers. From our physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists to our environmental services staff, security and food service workers, all of our employees are dedicated to providing the best care possible for our community. Training on how to safely care for patients with infectious diseases is standard practice in the health care field and something we implemented regularly even before the pandemic. Our health care workers are prepared and remain committed to the fight against COVID-19 for as long as it takes.

We believe one of the most positive things to come from this experience is the collaboration between our hospital facilities here on Kaua‘i. We continue to work closely together to ensure we have everything necessary to care for our patients and the people of Kaua‘i.

There is no better example of this than our current efforts to vaccinate our community. It’s gratifying to see Kaua‘i leading the state in the percent of the total population vaccinated, with more than 22% of residents having received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Wilcox, KVMH and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital continue to run vaccine clinics and are ready to increase vaccination appointments as supply becomes available and more residents become eligible.

While we remain hopeful that vaccination efforts and other safety measures in place will help us avoid any potential surge in COVID-19 cases, we are prepared and ready to respond for the better health of our community.


Jen H. Chahanovich, President &CEO, Wilcox Medical Center and CEO, Kaua‘i Medical Clinic, and Lance Segawa, Regional CEO, Hawai‘i Health System Corporation – Kaua‘i Region
Source: The Garden Island

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