Coronavirus: West Hawaii hospitals prepared

  • Kona Community Hospital is continuously monitoring patients for communicable diseases and is always in a state of readiness due to the Big Island’s status as a highly desirable travel location, said Kona Community Hospital Infection Prevention Director Lisa Downing, RN. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Officials for West Hawaii’s two main hospitals said Thursday clinical personnel at each facility are prepared for managing the care of any patient with suspected coronavirus.

“KCH is continuously monitoring patients for communicable diseases and we are always in a state of readiness due to the Big Island’s status as a highly desirable travel location,” said Kona Community Hospital Infection Prevention Director Lisa Downing, RN.

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The Kealakekua-based hospital said it works closely with the state Department of Health, and its frontline staff members have reviewed guidelines and best practices as well as the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for monitoring and containing potential infections.

“Kona Community Hospital clinical personnel will follow strict protocols set forth by the CDC and State Department of Health for managing the care of a patient with suspected novel coronavirus,” Downing said.

North Hawaii Community Hospital, a Queen’s Health Systems facility, is also following the protocols, and encouraging routine travel screening. The hospital on Wednesday will open its new expanded emergency room after holding a community open house from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in Waimea.

“Consistent with the Infection Prevention and Control practices throughout the Queen’s Health Systems’ hospitals and clinics, NHCH has encouraged routine travel screening of patients by providers and rapid masking and isolation of those who screen positive until further evaluation is completed,” said Erlaine Bello, MD, Hospital Epidemiologist, Infection Prevention and Control for the Queen’s Health Systems.

Bello noted the enhanced temperature screening for influenza previously implemented in some hospitals in response to increased influenza in their communities mirrors the screening in place at some airports for the Wuhan Coronavirus.

“We continue to recommend influenza vaccination for the unvaccinated. As always our goal is to keep our patients, staff, and providers healthy and safe,” she said.

On Friday, as China prepared to celebrate Lunar New Year in the shadow of the worrying new virus, the death toll surpassed 40, the Associated Press reported. In addition, an unprecedented lockdown kept 36 million people from traveling and authorities canceled a host of events.

The National Health Commission reported a jump in the number of people infected with the virus to 1,287 with 41 deaths. The latest tally comes from 29 provinces across China, including 237 patients in serious condition. All 41 deaths have been in China, including 39 in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, one in Hebei and one in Heilongjiang.

Meanwhile, Australia announced its first case Saturday, a Chinese man in his 50s who last week returned from China. France said three people had fallen ill with the virus — the disease’s first appearance in Europe. And the United States reported its second case, involving a Chicago woman in her 60s who was hospitalized in isolation after returning from China.

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Transportation was shut down in Wuhan, the city of 11 million where the outbreak originated, and in at least 12 other cities in central Hubei province, encompassing a population greater than that of New York, London, Paris and Moscow combined.

According to the CDC, symptoms of 2019-nCoV, or novel coronavirus, include fever, runny nose, headache or lower respiratory illness such as cough or difficulty breathing. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

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