Officials: Plans in place to deploy COVID field hospitals on Oahu if they’re needed

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:22 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 5:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hawaii’s COVID crisis worsens, emergency rooms are crowded with a mix of coronavirus patients alongside people with other ailments and injuries.

“The ERs are trying desperately to keep them separate,” said Jim Ireland, head of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department. “But there’s just not enough physical space.”

Ireland confirmed plans are in place to deploy field hospitals on Oahu if and when they’re needed.

Ireland said tents, beds and equipment are all on standby, and he added a field hospital could be set up anywhere that has a lot of space.

He said the ideal location would be a hospital parking lot.

Ireland also acknowledged the grounds at the state Capitol are being discussed as a possible site.

He says one idea is to create a field hospital exclusively for COVID patients.

“They (patients) could be put on oxygen. They could be assessed. Treatment for COVID could start in this tent,” he said. “Then after anywhere from three to 12 hours a decision could be made.”

Ireland says depending how the person’s doing they could either be discharged, hospitalized or remain in the tent for further observation.

With more than 9,500 active infections statewide, officials predict hospitals will only get busier over the next several weeks.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the temporary facilities could take some pressure off emergency rooms.

They could also prevent situations like what happened Friday at the Queen’s Medical Center West Oahu, when officials declared an internal disaster after the hospital’s 24-bed ER was overwhelmed with 63 patients.

“When we saw the surge at the hospital and the dominoes started to fall we realized how valuable it would have been to have an outpatient setting like a tent where we could provide some extra care,” Green said.

HNN asked who would staff the facilities.

“This is another space where our nurses and respiratory therapists who are visiting (from the mainland) can help us,” Green said.

The city has also offered up its “multiple patient monitoring system,” designed for mass casualty events.

“So what this does is allow one or two people to watch 30, 40, 50, 60 patients at once,” Ireland said.

It keeps track of their vital signs on a laptop and alerts providers should a patient need more care.

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