13 traveling nurses assigned to Life Care Center of Hilo

More than a dozen traveling nurses will help support Life Care Center of Hilo as it contends with a COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of a $17 million allocation of federal coronavirus relief funding, about 50 out-of-state health care workers recently arrived to help Hawaii respond to the pandemic, including 13 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who will be headed to Life Care Center.

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According to the state, more than 170 medical employees are in Hawaii through Dec. 26. They were contracted by the state Department of Health with Ohio-based ProLink Services to bolster staffing in the state’s hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The effort to staff post-acute care facilities is being coordinated by the DOH and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

Life Care Center of Hilo has been fighting an outbreak of the coronavirus since late September, during which 55 residents and 17 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

Life Care Center reported that two more residents died over the weekend from the virus, according to an update posted to the facility’s website Monday morning. Ten COVID-related deaths have now been reported there.

As of Monday morning, there were 19 active resident cases at the facility and one receiving treatment at Hilo Medical Center. Two residents have been discharged, and 23 have recovered.

Fifteen employees have fully recovered.

According to the state, the traveling health care workers may not remain at the same facility for the duration of their employment.

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The workers can be quickly mobilized into a “strike team” to assist specific nursing homes or hospitals, should a COVID-19 cluster emerge.

“I thank the (Department) of Health and our many partners for making today a reality,” Gov. David Ige said in a news release. “Our local health care employees have been working diligently, around the clock, making many personal sacrifices to ensure that the facilities they work in and our communities are safe and the spread COVID-19 is prevented. These traveling medical professionals will support and bolster Hawaii’s health care workforce, should we experience a surge in cases.”

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