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Q: I keep reading about universal testing at Maui Memorial Medical Center. What is it and how will it help protect patients and employees?

Universal testing means that all patients admitted to MMMC are being tested for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms. This includes patients admitted through the Emergency Department, laboring mothers, and direct admissions to the hospital (elective and other scheduled procedures). Rapid testing means that test results are available within about four hours.

Maui Memorial Medical Center began universal testing in June, to help identify people who may be carriers of COVID-19 but don't have any symptoms. This helps prevent potential exposure to patients and staff, and it also helps the hospital manage PPE supplies by determining the appropriate level of care for each patient.

This COVID-19 test involves a nasal swab that is inserted in the back of the nose. Most testing is done in the emergency department, and patients wait in the emergency department for their results. Laboring mothers are tested in the Labor and Delivery unit once they've been admitted, and they wait for the results in their room where they are isolated until they are cleared as negative. If a patient tests positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19, they are immediately isolated in a "warm unit" which serves as an isolation area for COVID-19 patients or any suspected (PUI) cases. MMMC can expand warm units and capacity if necessary.

MMMC has enough tests to serve all our patients, as well as staff, when needed. We also recently received and are now using a larger testing machine that can now run tests in 4 hours and process more than 1,000 tests per day. However, at this time, MMMC does not serve as an outpatient testing facility for the general public. Maui County residents or visitors who want to be tested can visit the County of Maui COVID-19 website www.covid19mauinui.com/testing for a list of current testing sites.

Universal rapid testing helps protect patients and employees because it means the hospital can quickly identify and isolate patients who might be contagious, even if they aren't showing symptoms.

This, along with the other safeguards in place at MMMC including universal masking, isolation and enhanced disinfection protocols, appropriate PPE for all staff, no-visitor policy, and mandatory symptom/temperature screening for anyone entering the hospital, further minimizes the risk of potential exposure to patients and visitors, and employees and providers.

Vijak S. Ayasanonda, MD

Emergency medicine

EMA Business Office
898 N. Pacific Coast Highway
Suite 600
El Segundo, CA 90245