A Maui Medical Group provider who has worked exclusively at Maui Memorial Medical Center for the past four months has tested positive for COVID-19, according to hospital and medical group officials.
The provider was tested for COVID-19 two weeks ago by Maui Medical Group and was asymptomatic at the time, with negative results, the Maui Health System hospital operator said in a press release Monday after -midday. However, the claimant was tested again on Friday, and a positive result returned on Sunday. The state health ministry has been notified and both organizations are actively working with the ministry.
“As of December 31, this person has been working exclusively at Maui Memorial Medical Center,” Maui Medical Group Administrator Cliff Alakai told the Maui News Monday night. “This person had no contact with the ambulatory doctors, our other employees or patients. Everything is in the hospital.
Alakai said Maui Medical Group tests hospital providers every two weeks. The claimant finished a shift on Friday and the medical director reminded him to get tested. Alakai said the supplier “Did not have significant symptoms” and it was not clear whether the headache and fatigue the person was experiencing was due to the virus or wearing an N95 mask and working in the hospital all week.
For confidentiality reasons, Alakai could not say what type of health worker the provider is.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino told a press conference Monday afternoon that the case was related to the ongoing cluster at the hospital. However, Maui Health spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda later said the hospital was still investigating. Dallarda said that during the initial contact tracing for the cluster, “The supplier has not been identified as having been in contact with positive COVIDs. “
“With this new positive supplier, the contact tracing team is exploring all possibilities”, she said.
Alakai added that “No one can know for sure where this came from, but what I do know is that he only works in the hospital and is very picky.”
“I don’t know where else it came from,” said Alakai.
The first inquiries Monday morning verified that the provider was still wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, where applicable, for patient care at the hospital, Maui Health said. Because of this and the increased safety measures at the hospital, Maui Health said the risk of exposure is likely low.
“The current information we have is that this community provider, staff and patients were wearing appropriate masks, which places this situation at a lower risk according to CDC guidelines,” Maui Health chief medical officer Dr David Ulin said in a statement. “Our Emergency Operations Center team is working with the Department of Health and following their recommendations on contact tracing and testing.”
According to an email sent Sunday on behalf of the Emergency Operations Center, a team is investigating potential patient and employee contact with the provider in the East Molokai, South Molokai, North Maui, East Maui and North Lanai wings. of the hospital. Dallarda said all of them are medico-surgical units except Lanai North, which is an outpatient treatment center.
The email added that “Patients we know of who were in contact with the provider are transferred to 5 East to be isolated, closely monitored, tested and retested. “
Dallarda said 5 East is not an intensive care unit but is used as an isolation area. She did not know how many patients had been transferred there.
Maui Health said the contact tracing team aims to notify employees within 24 hours if they have been exposed and will help establish a monitoring and care plan, which will include testing.
Maui Health also said it has implemented “Improved health services for employees, which includes screening and testing for any staff member with COVID-like symptoms. “ Additional benefits for employees who are asked to self-isolate or self-quarantine at home include paid time off.
Meanwhile, at Maui Medical Group, Alakai said clinics were taking precautions, such as requiring face masks since March, switching to telemedicine, and cleaning clinics twice a day. Maui Medical Group also has a triage testing center in Wailuku and has tested more than 1,000 people since March 12, 20 of whom have tested positive. The three positive cases since March 30 are all linked to the hospital, including the recently announced supplier, Alakai said.
“The people of Maui have done a wonderful job in controlling the infection,” Alakai said, explaining that many of the medical group’s early results were related to travel and that cases have slowed since visitors started to leave.
“What they have done to keep the community dispersed is just great,” he said.
Alakai urged people to continue to see their doctors during the pandemic, “Because when it’s done or when it passes, we don’t want you to be delinquent in your medical health. “
On Monday, the number of cases in Maui County increased by one to 113. The state’s Joint Information Center said the new positive case was a Maui Memorial employee and that “The source of the infection is unknown and is currently under investigation. “ However, Dallarda said the deal was in fact the supplier to Maui Medical Group. The clearinghouse could not be reached immediately for clarification on Monday evening.
The DOH said on Saturday that the Maui Memorial cluster numbered up to 57 people – 37 staff and 20 patients – and provided no new updates on the numbers on Monday.
Statewide, there are now 607 positive cases, including 396 in Oahu, 113 in Maui County (including two in Molokai), 70 on the island of Hawaii, 21 in Kauai and seven residents who were diagnosed out of state.
Late Sunday night and Monday, the state also reported two more deaths, a man and a woman who both lived in Oahu and were over 65 with underlying health issues. The man had been hospitalized since early March, the woman since early April.
There have now been 16 deaths – 11 in Oahu and five in Maui.
* Colleen Uechi can be contacted at [email protected]