A patient recently arrived at the emergency department with abdominal pain. He had been suffering for a week but delayed seeking help — in part because he was afraid of COVID-19. Because of the delay, his problem was much more difficult to treat.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen many patients avoid coming to the hospital for medical emergencies, including heart attacks and strokes. Some are afraid of the virus; others have heard the hospital is full. Unfortunately, these delays can be life-altering or even life-threatening.

The fact is Maui Memorial Medical Center’s emergency room is the safest place to be if you are having a medical emergency. 

Our emergency room visits per day are still below normal, so we have plenty of capacity to care for people right now. We are prepared for any potential surge of COVID-19, including any surge that may arrive with the return of visitors to the island. 

We screen and temperature-check everyone arriving at the ER regardless of symptoms and anyone with suspicious symptoms is immediately isolated. Patients who are not severely ill are evaluated in an outdoor tent. Visitor policy restrictions are still in effect to further minimize community traffic and potential exposure. The strict masking policy throughout the hospital requires every individual, including patients, to be masked at all times.

In addition, the hospital has more than enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and our guidelines for use are above and beyond Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health recommendations. This includes the use of N95 masks throughout the ER on every patient regardless of COVID status. 

The pandemic is our new reality and it is important that we never let our guard down.  We are prepared and will remain ready for any potential surge, just as we have done before. In the meantime, if you or a loved one is having a medical emergency, do not delay your care – seek help immediately. The ER is safe and our health care team of experts is ready to care for you.  

For more information, please visit www.mauihealth.org/safe