How is Maui’s hospital system handling COVID-19, safety practices, visiting patients, elective surgery and the economic downturn? CEO Mike Rembis provides an update.
Important Updates from Maui Health’s CEO Mike Rembis
July 16, 2020
Thank you for the opportunity to share the important work of our dedicated team at Maui Health. Although the state of Hawaii has seen a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases, Maui continues to see only a slight increase, for now. We realize this will likely not be the case in the future, as we open-up our economy and tourism soon. We have been fortunate that it has been over seventy days since Maui Memorial Medical Center has seen a positive COVID-19 patient; however, please know our Emergency Operations Center team has been working behind the scenes on preparations to manage any potential surge in cases.
· Emergency Department Visits: When the pandemic reached Maui, we experienced a substantial reduction in Emergency Department (ED) visits. People were either in fear of accessing care because of the virus, or they did not want to further burden our healthcare system. Our Communications team worked with our ED physicians and staff to encourage our community to not delay care. The messaging worked and we have seen a steady increase in ED volume. We are still below our pre-COVID-19 census, but certainly an improvement in accessing care and avoiding delay for essential services.
· The Hospital is Safe: Our message of safe care is also important. We have taken additional safety measures to protect patients, employees, and providers. Some of these safe actions include limited hospital entry points with temperature and symptom screening checks on every person who enters the hospital; universal masking requirements for employees, providers, and patients; and enhanced disinfection procedures that include the Optimum-UV Enlight Systems. With the help of the Foundation and its Hospital HUI, the Hospital purchased three (3) Optimum-UV Enlight® Systems to help us safely clean the toughest and out-of-reach areas of a room.The portable devices are effective against viruses, bacteria, and spores. UV devices offer an extra layer of cleaning by inactivating microorganisms that may not have been removed during the manual cleaning process. UV-C works by disrupting the DNA sequence of organisms. This renders the cell unable to grow or reproduce, and without the ability to reproduce, the cell cannot infect and rapidly dies.
· Elective Procedures/Surgeries: Elective procedures/surgeries resumed at the end of May with a slow reopening. Many patients have been waiting months to receive their well-needed care and were eager to seek treatment. All patients are COVID-19 tested before their procedure. Additionally, the elective procedure/surgery schedule is reviewed daily to ensure there are adequate supplies and bed capacity to care for these patients. If COVID-19 surges in our community, we are prepared to limit and/or postpone these procedures once again.
· Hospital Visitation: As the pandemic loomed, we closed the hospital to visitors, except for one visitor per OB patient, pediatric patient, and special needs patients. There are exceptions made for compassionate care visits for end of life patients. We understand the importance of family and friends to visit and share with their hospitalized loved one, but it is vital we reduce visitation for the health and protection of all involved. With the steady increase of COVID-19 cases throughout Hawaii, it would be irresponsible to change our visitor policy at this time.
· Testing: As mentioned, every inpatient admission and elective procedure/surgery patient is COVID-19 tested. Rapid testing is done here with results within two-three hours. We expect to increase our testing capability by the end of July with the purchase of the Panther – a testing analyzer that can administer up to 1,000 tests a day without the batching requirement. We are also working closely with Pulama Lana‘i on rapid COVID-19 testing on Lana‘i with a target for the end of July.
· Surge Plan for COVID-19: Our Emergency Operations Center team has been working on a surge plan in the likelihood the virus will return. Surge planning includes staffing and provider needs in addition to sourcing critical supplies. Special thanks to the Foundation and our community for the generous donations, including ventilators, and PPE supplies. We continue to source our PPE supplies with a goal of 60 days on hand for each item and we are mostly there with 262 days on hand for N95 masks, 249 days on hand for ISO/Proc masks and 66 days on hand for gloves.
· COVID-19 Financial Impact: COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the hospital. Hospital volumes are down, and we anticipate this will continue for the remainder of the year. In addition, we incurred many expenses related to our COVID-19 response. The hospital has seen a loss of over $25 million in net revenue just during the three-month period of March through May of this year. We did receive CARES Act monies from the federal government totaling $11.8 million. Recently, the legislature recommended $19 million for Maui Health. The decision now lies with the governor.
· Project Delays: Construction on several projects was postponed due to the pandemic. We are now restarting many of these delayed projects and have several competing priorities as most of these construction projects are tied to state funding and must be completed by year end. We are very grateful for the generosity of the Maui Health Foundation HUI, who has graciously funded our Chest Pain Center. We will move to this important project soon with an adjusted timetable in the next few months, however, there is a possibility COVID-19 may further delay our construction projects.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a few updates. Your support and contributions are essential in our ability to provide the best care to our community, and we are grateful to you!
As we continue to work around the clock to keep our patients, employees, and providers safe, we want to encourage you all to take care of yourself – don’t delay care, wear your mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently. And know that if you or your family needs our care, we will be here for you.
In good health,
Michael Rembis Chief Executive Officer Maui Health