The Latest: 46 New Cases Statewide; Nurses And Kapiʻolani Hospital At Impasse

Dec 28, 2020

Nurses at Hawaiʻi Pacific Health's Kapiʻolani Hospital have been unable to come to a labor agreement with the medical facility due to a dispute over COVID-19 protocols. 

Nurses, like Paulette Vasu who has been a nurse at the hospital for the past 23 years, are concerned about personal protective equipment -- including facemasks. 

Vasu says the hospital requires nurses to disinfect their N-95 facemasks five times, using the facility's UV equipment. But the masks have to meet certain requirements, such as not having makeup and not broken.

"They did agree to only zapping it three times, which we don't understand why we can't get a new N-95 every time we work," Vasu said. 

"And one of the other issues is that we take care of mixed patient assignments, you'll have a COVID positive patient and a non-COVID positive patient. And we don't feel that's right, either."

A Hawaiʻi Pacific Health spokesperson wrote in a statement that UV technology follows CDC guidelines, and that giving staff a new N-95 would burn through all supply in a month. The spokesperson also noted that no Kapiʻolani nurses have tested positive for COVID-19 exposure while wearing proper PPE.

Vasu says staff have tested positive for COVID-19, but Kapiʻolani Hospital says they caught it in the community because they were wearing PPE at the hospital. Because of this, affected staff members have to use sick time to isolate at home. 

Meanwhile, Hawaiʻi Pacific Health says it has vaccinated almost 2,400 of its frontline health workers.

-- HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 46 new cases and no new fatalities on Monday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 29 cases, Maui 13, Hawaiʻi Island 2, Kauaʻi 1, Lanai and Molokaʻi had none.

The latest state counts bring the Oʻahu total to 17,605, Hawaiʻi County 1,862, Maui 893, Kauaʻi 143, Lanai 106, and Molokaʻi 22. The number of out-of-state cases totals 352.

Since the pandemic began the state has tallied 20,983 cases. The death toll stands at 285.