Oahu hospital to establish dedicated virus unit by September

HONOLULU — The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu plans to establish a new unit dedicated to treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The hospital projected the $12.7 million project will be ready by September, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

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The infectious disease unit will focus on the care of COVID-19 patients during an expected upsurge that health officials are calling “a second wave” of coronavirus cases.

The unit also will address a shortage in medical resources and be used for future emerging viruses, the hospital said.

“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, chief operating officer of The Queen’s Health Systems, said in an email.

Capacity needs have become more urgent since state health officials predicted the number of hospital beds could be exceeded by the end of August.

The unit on the medical center’s ninth floor is expected to hold one patient in each of its 24 private isolation rooms where patients will be treated by 10 to 20 staff members.

The project’s overall costs include consultations with infectious diseases specialists, renovations for patient care rooms, personnel training and isolated anteroom areas for caregivers.

Chang expects future surges in virus cases and anticipates the infection prevention unit will be a “tremendous asset for our patients and our caregivers.”

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The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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