Federal virus relief funds to be used for 9 temporary health care providers at HMC

The state Department of Health on Thursday announced it will use $14 million of federal coronavirus relief funding to bring more than 200 additional nurses and other specialists to Hawaii’s hospitals during the next four months.

That funding will bring nine new health care providers to Hilo Medical Center.

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Spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said the hospital will welcome an intensive care unit nurse and a medical-surgical nurse on Sept. 28, and one ICU nurse, four medical-surgical nurses, one telemetry nurse and one respiratory therapist on Oct. 5.

“We’re grateful for the added depth of personnel and respite it brings our hardworking health care heroes,” she said.

The DOH, in collaboration with the Health Care Association of Hawaii, contracted ProLink Health Care, a Cincinnati-based health care staffing company, to provide personnel to nine hospitals throughout the state.

According to a DOH news release, 70 critical care nurses, 61 telemetry nurses, 71 medical-surgical nurses, 17 respiratory therapists, nine emergency department nurses and five dialysis nurses will be coming to the state.

“As Hawaii faces increases in hospitalizations due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Health wants to make sure our hospitals have sufficient surge capacity,” said state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char in the news release. “During their time here, these experienced health care staff will be providing critical patient care as well as respite for our dedicated health care workforce.”

A total of 134 individuals will arrive between Sept. 26 and Oct. 4, while nearly 100 more personnel will arrive Nov. 1, the DOH said. Both groups will be in Hawaii for two months.

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As essential workers, the out-of-state traveling nurses will be allowed to work with an exemption from the mandatory 14-day quarantine, but will be tested regularly for COVID-19, according to the DOH.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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