36 in isolation at Kanoa Resort

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To separate those who have and don’t have COVID-19 symptoms, the two groups are kept in separate facilities, with 36 people who, as of April 9, are in isolation at Kanoa Resort in Susupe, according to Esther Muña, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. chief executive officer.

Muña told Saipan Tribune, via video conference, that the people who are in isolation are those who have either tested positive or came in contact with someone who tested positive. Additionally, those in isolation are being monitored by Commonwealth Health Center doctors and nurses, taking their temperature at least twice a day, and ensuring that the individuals are okay.

According to Muña, at the people in isolation are similar to an outpatient basis since they do not meet the criteria for admission, but they do meet the criteria for isolation and monitoring.

“The goal of CHCC is to eventually increase the level of care over there [Kanoa Resort], on what we provide,” said Muna. “Those are things in the works to convert [Kanoa Resort] as an alternate care site for CHCC.”

Kanoa Resort has around-the-clock health care from medical doctors and nursing staff. In addition to health care, Muña acknowledged that in order to have Kanoa Resort as an alternate care site, there needs to be a pharmacy service, laboratory service, and respiratory services as well.

According to Muña, the developing protocol for the alternate care site is being carried out by the chief medical officer and deputy chief medical officer. There will be more information of when Kanoa Resort will be used as an alternative site, but, as of now, it is being utilized for quarantine and isolation as well as providing medical services on an “outpatient basis.”

“We’re very grateful that they [frontliners are] helping out as much as possible to take care of these people [COVID-19 positive patients] at Kanoa Resort,” said Muña. She stressed that these people did not sign up to “face the fire” but to have the medical doctors and nursing staff, as well as non-clinical people, volunteers, defense, and the Department of Public Safety helping out is a great support.

The process of collecting specimen

According to Muña, if an individual goes to the emergency room at CHC, due to the limited supply of tests, the medical doctor will determine if the individual can get tested for COVID-19. Once the medical doctor does determine that the individual needs to get the test, the nursing staff will then collect the specimen that will be sent for testing.

If an individual does get admitted, then the Guam Public Health Laboratory will treat the specimen for testing a high priority, meaning that it will get tested as soon as possible. If a patient is not admitted right away, Guam’s Public Health Laboratory will look at it as less of a priority and it will get tested at a Diagnostic Laboratory Services, which is the laboratory service that serves the Pacific region.

When an individual is showing COVID-19 symptoms and is still awaiting the result of their test, they will be put on mandatory isolation at Kanoa Resort. At that point, CHCC will conduct a point-of-contact tracing. Muña said that, rather than wait for their test to come back positive, it’s better to start contact tracing once the individual with symptoms presents themselves at the emergency room at CHC.

Muña stated that there have been family members who have tested negative even if their loved ones are positive for COVID-19. How long you are with a person who has tested positive for the virus plays a huge role.

Besides Kanoa Resort, the other quarantine site is Pacific Islands Club Saipan and is usually where those who arrived from off-island are temporarily kept.

Justine Nauta
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.

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