(BIVN) – The affects of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo worsened on Sunday, as the Hilo Medical Center reported two deaths out of the 37 positive cases identified in residents and employees at the facility.
In a Sunday update, the Hilo Medical Center reported 27 residents and 10 employees have tested positive for COVID-19.
Six (6) are hospitalized at Hilo Medical Center, and nineteen (19) are being cared for at the veterans home’s COVID designated area, hospital officials say.
The two (2) deaths related to COVID-19 had “significant, underlying health issues,” Hilo Medical Center said. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of these veterans who served our country.”
The two reported deaths are the first deaths on Hawaiʻi island associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Contract tracing reveals that the virus most likely entered the facility through a staff member who was exposed in the community, officials say.
“All staff and residents were tested August 23-24 and re-tested August 26-27. All residents and staff will tested again early next week,” a media release stated. “We will continue to keep families closely apprised of any developments and work with the Department of Health and other partners to test residents and staff so we can quickly contain any additional cases. The health and wellbeing of our residents and staff will remain our ultimate priority.”
From a Saturday message posted by the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home Facility Administration:
The positive staff members are self-isolating at home and will not return to work until medically cleared to do so. All staff members are screened before entering the facility pursuant to CDC guidelines and are sent home if they report any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or other illness. Any residents experiencing signs or symptoms are isolated and tested. All staff are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) pursuant to CDC guidelines.
We are working diligently to limit the spread of the virus to other residents of the facility and are communicating this news to our residents, staff, and their loved ones.
We are strictly limiting access to the building and carefully screening all people entering our facility in accordance with CDC and CMS guidelines. At this time, only essential visitors and vendors are being allowed access to the building as determined on a case-by-case basis. We are also following the CDC and CMS guidance that applies once a nursing facility has a confirmed COVID-19 positive case, as well as working closely with our physician partners and the State Health Department.
Our top priority remains the safety of staff, residents, and visitors. This includes making sure all of our employees and staff throughout the facility understand how to protect themselves and the residents in their care.
We are dedicated to providing quality care for our residents. We will continue to fight to keep our residents and staff safe.
Please reach out directly to the Facility Administrator with any questions or concerns that you have.
According to Hilo Medical Center, there are eighteen (18) hospitalized COVID-positive patients: three (3) in ICU, and fifteen (15) in COVID Unit.
After a Behavioral Health Unit employee notified the hospital of a positive COVID-19 test result, HMC immediately tested patients and staff at the facility on Friday, August 28. As of Sunday, August 30, all patients and staff on the Behavioral Health Unit who were tested are negative. Hilo Medical Center said it is assessing the possibility of restarting admissions to the unit.