Report: Hilo veterans home employee stayed on the job for 3 days after COVID-19 exposure

The coronavirus outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo may have begun with an employee who worked ― despite being linked to a large cluster.

That conclusion was included in a state Health Department report that seeks to understand what contributed to one of the deadliest outbreaks in the state.

The state Office of Health Care Assurance released its findings Friday following a month-long inspection of the home, where 71 residents and 35 employees have tested positive for the virus since August. Twenty-seven of those residents have died.

Utah-based Avalon Healthcare is no longer in charge of the veterans home, but the scope of its damage is severe.

Family seeks answers on a father’s final days battling COVID-19 at veterans home

From gently cradling his first grandchild to being a source of support on special days, family meant everything to Chris Drayer.

Now his sons say they’re honoring that legacy by making it their mission to reveal the circumstances surrounding the 70-year-old’s death.

Dayer was the third veteran to die at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo, where a total of 27 residents have now died after contracting COVID-19.

As Death Toll At Hilo Veteran’s Home Mounts, Family Calls For Criminal Investigation

As the COVID-19 death toll at Hilo’s Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home continues to mount, one family of a resident at the facility is demanding a criminal investigation.

Mary Benevides says prior to contracting COVID-19, her dad was always smiling, joking and doting on his grandchildren.

“He was happy,” she said. “He was funny. You know just always happy to hear from his family.”

But now she says all of that’s changed.

“He’s not my dad. Like how my dad was,” said Benevides. “Every phone call. Every text message makes your heart stop. You never know if it’s going to be that call.”

It’s been that way since early September when Walter Santos was diagnosed with COVID-19. The virus exacerbated his once manageable ailments, sending the 75-year-old downhill fast.

Homeowners who lost everything in the Kilauea eruption will be covered by insurance after all

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Families who lost their home in the Kilauea eruption were angered to learn their insurance company wouldn’t cover the damages brought on by the lava.

A legal battle ensued and several months later, the insurance company appears to have changed its stance.

Lunel and Philip Haysmer paid $2,700 a year in premiums to Lloyds of London. When their home burned in early May at the height of the Kilauea eruption, they filed a claim with the insurance company.

In July, the company denied the claim saying that the fine print in the Haysmer’s policy specifically excluded all “direct or indirect” damages from lava.

The couple filed a lawsuit suing the company for failing to honor damage claims.

But a day before Thanksgiving, the couple learned Lloyds of London altered their decision to deny the the claims of the Haysmers, and other homeowners in similar situations.

“It couldn’t have been any better happening the day before Thanksgiving. It actually put us both into tears for a while. It has been such a stressful period not knowing whether you’d go the rest of your life on a very meager income or if we would have that money to rely on at some point,” Philip Haysmer said.

Judge denies insurance company’s bid to dismiss lava victims’ suit

HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) – A Big Island judge denied Monday an insurance company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by an elderly couple whose Leilani Estates home was lost in the Kilauea eruptions.

Philip and Lanell Haysmer are suing insurance company Llyods of London.

The couple, who are in their seventies, say they paid $3,000 a year for insurance, but their claims were denied without an adjuster even visiting their property.

Insurer denies claim submitted by elderly couple displaced by lava

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) – Lloyd’s of London, a national insurer, has officially denied a claim submitted by an elderly couple who is now living in a friend’s garage.

The denial came via fax just days after the Leilani Estates residents sued for failing to give them lava damages — despite paying $2,700 a year in premiums.

Philip and Lunel Haysmer’s home burned down in early May when lava first entered into the Puna subdivision. According to their suit, the insurer, a syndication group led by Lloyd’s of London, has failed to honor their damage claims.

Their lawyer, Jeffrey Foster, said the couple is among a dozen homeowners whose claims are being denied.

Records: ER staff suspected abuse in death of 3-year-old foster child

KAMUELA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) – Emergency room staff at a Big Island hospital suspected abuse in the death of a 3-year-old boy who died last year in foster care, medical records show.

Fabian Garcia died in July, and the Hawaii County medical examiner determined it was due to blunt force trauma to the head.

But after a seven-month investigation, the medical examiner stopped short of saying the boy had been murdered.

Jeffrey Foster, the attorney for Fabian’s biological parents, is calling on anyone who might know about the toddler’s death to call police.

Foster provided Hawaii News Now a portion of Fabian’s hospital records, which show ER staff suspected abuse.