(BIVN) – The State of Hawaiʻi announced on Thursday an allocation of $14 million to various hospitals to provide additional nurses and other specialists over the next four months. From a State news release:
The Hawai‘i Department of Health is administering $14 million to provide more than 200 additional nurses and other specialists for hospitals statewide over the next four months. Some of the out-of-state personnel will begin arriving this weekend. Gov. Ige approved the award of funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund earlier this week. The funding, provided through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will provide vital healthcare capacity.
The Department of Health, in collaboration with the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i, contracted ProLink Healthcare, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based healthcare staffing company, to provide specialized personnel for Kuakini Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center, Adventist Health Castle, Hilo Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center, Straub Medical Center, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, and Pali Momi Medical Center.
The majority — more than 85% — of the positions are for medical-surgical nurses, critical care nurses, and telemetry nurses. The remaining positions include respiratory therapists, emergency department nurses and dialysis nurses. The breakdown includes 70 critical care nurses, 61 telemetry nurses, 71 medical-surgical nurses, 17 respiratory therapists, nine emergency department nurses, and five dialysis nurses.
“As Hawai‘i faces increases in hospitalizations due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Health wants to be sure our hospitals have sufficient surge capacity,” said Dr. Elizabeth A. Char, Director of Health. “During their time here, these experienced healthcare staff will be providing critical patient care as well as respite for our dedicated local healthcare workforce.”
The supplemental staff will be deployed in two waves. A total of 134 individuals will arrive in the first wave from Sept. 26 and Oct. 4, and work in Hawai‘i for two months. In the second wave, about 100 personnel are scheduled to arrive on Nov. 1 and will also be in Hawai‘i for two months.
As essential workers, the out-of-state traveler nurses will be allowed to work with an exemption from the mandatory 14-day quarantine, and they will be regularly tested for COVID-19.
The announcement was made the just hours after U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi) said she had urged Governor Ige to spend the federal coronavirus funds before the December deadline, and to make the spending information clear to the public.
From the Office of Senator Hirono:
Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) wrote to Governor David Ige earlier this week asking that he detail how he will spend down the $321 million that the state received from the federal government and has not yet allocated to any purpose, which may have to be returned to the U.S. Treasury.
In her letter, the Senator noted that the state has spent roughly $23 million of the $863 million Hawaii received in the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, and that Hawaii residents should have clear and frequently updated information about how the state is spending coronavirus relief funds. She also called on the state to release details about the spending of federal dollars at least weekly, instead of the monthly reports the state has been issuing.
“I remain concerned that Hawaii will not spend these federal resources before the end of the year, and that a lack of clear information provided by the state on how funds are being used is creating frustration and confusion among Hawaii’s residents,” Senator Hirono wrote.
Senator Hirono continued, “Trust and confidence in public institutions are imperative to help us get through this pandemic and a lack of transparency and clear communication only creates distrust and erodes confidence.”