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Maui Health further limits hospital visitor policy during latest COVID-19 surge

Maui Memorial Medical Center
Maui Memorial Medical Center

At Maui Memorial Medical Center, hospitalized COVID-19 patients have grown by about 60% in the last two weeks.

As a result, Maui Health revised its hospital visitor policy on Sunday, limiting patients to one visitor per day for two hours, down from two per day from noon to 6 p.m.

CEO Michael Rembis said that as the only acute care hospital on the island, this change is to get ahead of surging community transmitted cases.

“One of the things that this virus is doing for us, unfortunately, is taking our health care workers out,” Rembis said. “The whole community is experiencing this increase in positivity, and our employees are a mirror of our community, so we're seeing our employees calling in sick.”

This is a strict approach, Rembis said, that will hopefully make a difference.

“We need to do whatever we can to reduce exposure so that our employees stay healthy, so we can take care of the patients in the hospital,” Rembis said. “There is no other hospital that can come and help us right now, so we need to be very, very conservative.”

Hawaiʻi COVID-19 data from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health on May 25, 2022.
Hawaiʻi Department of Health
Hawaiʻi COVID-19 data from the Hawaiʻi Department of Health on May 25, 2022.

At Kaiser facilities, a one-visitor policy will remain in place at its yellow-tier system, but Kaiser's Chief Operating Officer Andrew Giles noted increased activity.

“Certainly the activity has picked up tremendously over the last four weeks, and our positivity rate now is just north of 26%,” Giles said Wednesday. “For context, during the previous Omicron surge, our peak was 34%.”

Giles said that each Wednesday, hospital policy is reviewed by an infectious disease and control team.

“It's really a fine balance,” Giles said. “Families do provide healing to the patient and we do see, obviously, the benefit of allowing families into the hospital and balancing that with good public health measures. So, you know, we feel as if our protocols we have in place, keep everyone safe.”

Meanwhile, visitor policies at all Hawai‘i Pacific Health facilities across the state also remain unchanged, although they remain under discussion. At these medical centers, two adult visitors at a time are allowed for most patients. COVID-positive patients, however, are allowed no visitors.

Masking remains required at all hospital systems.

Sabrina Bodon is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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