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Wailuku homeless center’s COVID-19 case links to hospital outbreak

MMMC common tie in recent nursing home, homeless cases

Monique Yamashita, Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless resource center executive director, stands outside the Wailuku facility on Friday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

One homeless individual with Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless resource center in Wailuku tested positive for COVID-19 after being treated at the hospital during the outbreak, the center’s director said Friday morning.

The COVID-19-positive man is doing well and is being isolated off site in a state Department of Health quarantine. The individual was alone in the center’s respite shelter and had limited contact with others, center executive director Monique Yamashita said Friday morning.

Yamashita said DOH recently contacted the man because he was a patient at Maui Memorial Medical Center when the cluster occurred. He was tested Tuesday and results came back positive Wednesday night.

State health officials Thursday reported that the hospital is now associated with 41 coronavirus cases.

A main cluster of 15 staff and eight patients started in mid-March. The cluster has triggered testing of about 300 staff and patients.

Ka Hale A Ke Ola homeless resource center reported Friday that one homeless individual at the Wailuku facility has tested positive for coronavirus and a separate individual is being tested. Both are in state Health Department quarantine at an offsite location. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The hospital has also been linked to three Hale Makua Health Services coronavirus cases reported this week. One Kahului nursing home resident and two home care patients recently tested positive after being discharged from the hospital earlier this month. The cases triggered more than 100 tests of Hale Makua staff and clients.

A separate, unrelated individual at the center hasn’t been feeling well, is being tested for COVID-19 and also was moved to state DOH off-site quarantine. This person also had limited contact with others and results are pending on that test, Yamashita said.

Yamashita said eight staff who interacted with the two are in 14-day quarantine and are being tested for coronavirus. Another 20 staff at the center have been informed and may choose to get tested.

She said the County of Maui and Minit Medical are in the process of getting additional testing for the center’s guests, who have been following state and federal protocol for pandemic safety.

Also, state DOH local officials, who have been “angels,” she said, will visit the center today at 2 p.m. to talk with guests.

Yamashita and staff had Centers for Disease Control procedures put place since early March and she said she is confident that will help prevent spread.

“What I want is for our guests to know that we’ve done everything that we can to try and keep them safe,” Yamashita told The Maui News on Friday morning. “And, I’m getting emotional, and I want to make sure they feel comfortable that they are OK, and they get the testing and the services they need to stay safe.”

Yamashita also said that masks have been donated for staff and they are close to running out. However, she said she is most concerned about the homeless guests who aren’t able to obtain masks and added that the center is accepting face mask donations.

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