Governor Abercrombie Offices Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

After a rigorous six-month planning process made possible by a federal grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the state today announced the release of its healthcare transformation plan. Under CMMI’s State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, Beth Giesting, the state’s healthcare transformation coordinator, convened more than 100 stakeholders from across the state to design Hawaii’s roadmap to achieve the “Triple Aim” of better care, better health and lower costs.

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

Office of the Governor Releases Healthcare Transformation Plan

“Transforming our state’s healthcare system is a high priority of my administration, and under the leadership of Beth Giesting, we’ve made substantial progress since her appointment two years ago,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “This healthcare transformation plan outlines clear, tangible steps we can take to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care in Hawaii.”

“The resources that accompanied the SIM planning grant came at just the right time to allow us to take our efforts to the next level,” added Giesting. “We firmly believe that the priorities outlined in our plan will improve the quality of care and outcomes for all residents, while addressing the long-term fiscal sustainability of our healthcare system. In addition, it will bring greater equity by reducing geographic and cultural barriers to care.”

As part of its roadmap for transformation, the state’s plan identifies six essential catalysts for transformation:

  1. Primary Care Practice Redesign: Enrolling at least 80 percent of Hawaii residents in a patient-centered medical home by 2017 and exploring strategies to integrate behavioral health services into the primary care setting
  2. Care Coordination: Implementing programs to help high-risk/high-need individuals receive the services they need in part by establishing Medicaid Health Homes and Community Care Networks
  3. Payment Reform: Transitioning all payers to value-based purchasing by aligning reimbursement strategies
  4. Health Information Technology: Improving connectivity and capability across the healthcare ecosystem by accelerating adoption of electronic health records and increasing utilization of health information exchange
  5. Workforce Development: Expanding capacity for team-based care, addressing workforce shortages and improving cultural competency of providers
  6. Policy Strategies and Levers: Aligning state resources to drive policy changes, including the creation of a permanent transformation structure within state government

The plan is now available in its entirety for review at: www.hawaiihealthcareproject.org

In addition to Hawaii, 15 other states were announced as awardees of the SIM planning grant. Each state had six months to design and submit its own healthcare transformation plan, which will now be eligible for anticipated implementation awards later this year. CMMI expects to issue up to five such awards to the states to implement their plans, with each award valued between $20 and $60 million.

Crew for Second HI-SEAS Mission Announced – Next Extended Simulation of Mars Exploration Begins March 28

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015.  “Hawai‘i provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

HI-SEAS crew members were required have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old.  Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood – A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Ross is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman – An officer in the US Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Casey now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams – Director of the Neuropsychology Department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Ron holds a PhD in Neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer – Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory.  Tiffany was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet – A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center.  Lucie designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio – A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control, and life support systems. Anne is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai, a mechanical engineer and Captain in the US Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa.  The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems:  crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

More information, photos, and full biographies for the 2014 crew members are available on the HI-SEAS website at http://hi-seas.org/.  Members of the media can download high-resolution photos from the previous HI-SEAS mission at:  http://go.hawaii.edu/GQ

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org/

Public Invited to the Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival

The public is invited to the 7th annual University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival on Sunday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hilo’s Bayfront Beach Park.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This free, event is hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Pacific Island Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) in partnership with the County of Hawaiʻi, EPSCoR Hawaiʻi IMUA III, UH Hilo Student Activities Council, UH Hilo Student Association, Board of Media Broadcasting, Board of Student Publications, and the University of Hawai’i Sea Grant.

Since its debut as Ocean Day in 2007, the festival has become a popular community event, drawing crowds in excess of 2,000 participants. Volunteer Coordinator Amelie Sterling says the event also serves as an important learning resource for students.

“Ocean Day is a great volunteer opportunity for students to gain a service learning experience as well as enhance their resumes and build skills for the future,” Sterling said. “Some faculty members even offer it as an opportunity for students to gain extra credit or fulfill a community service requirement within their course.”

The Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival is focused on increasing awareness of ocean and coastal issues such as conservation, sustainable use of resources and ocean safety through interactive displays, activities and booths. Activities include fishing games, marine critter touch tanks, craft making, makahiki games, face painting, poi-pounding, seed planting, marine debris displays, and more. The event also showcases ongoing research while providing opportunities to interact with people interested in working together to care for island and ocean communities.

For more information, email: UHpipes@hawaii.edu or call Amelie Sterling at 933-0707.

Department of Health Cites Philips Services Hawaii, LTD for Used-Oil Permit Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has filed a notice of violation with a penalty fine totaling $19,500 against Philip Services Hawaii, LTD (PSH). DOH discovered two alleged violations of the state’s used-oil rules during a routine inspection on Aug. 19 and 20, 2013. PSH operates at two sites located at 91-410 and 91-416 Komohana St. in Kapolei on Oahu. The company has been at these sites since July 2001 and its operations include used-oil transport, processing and recycling.

Department of Health

PSH faces one count of significantly altering operating procedures without notifying DOH. These procedures are considered to be a part of the permit and any changes to the plans must be approved by DOH. The standard operating procedures that were in use at the time of the inspection were not consistent with the approved version. The altered procedures resulted in substantial changes in the used-oil processing steps that had not been approved by DOH. The altered procedures changed the system from a recycling system into a disposal system.

Instead of recovering used oil and waste fuels from the oily water for reuse, the altered system would absorb those components for disposal. Potentially, hazardous wastes could have been sent for recycling and been disposed of instead. The second count resulted from PSH failing to update their emergency coordinator list. PSH may request a hearing within 20 days to contest the violation notice and penalty.

To protect Hawaii from pollutants that endanger people and the environment, the DOH regulates the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes.

The department’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch promotes pollution prevention and waste minimization, develops partnerships with waste generators and the regulated community, guides the rehabilitation of contaminated lands, and aggressively enforces environmental laws.waii

Department of Education Convenes Working Group to Review “Pono Choices” – A Sexual Health Education Curriculum

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) yesterday convened a working group to review Pono Choices, a sexual health education curriculum taught in some middle schools as part of a research study by the University of Hawaii’s (UH) Center on Disability Studies.

DOE ReleaseOn Feb. 4, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE), a discussion of sexual health education curriculum drew additional comments regarding Pono Choices. The BOE received more than 100 written testimonies expressing concerns over the UH pilot curriculum. As a result, the DOE convened a working group comprised of diverse stakeholders to review Pono Choices and make a recommendation on whether it meets statutory requirements and applicable BOE policies regarding sexual health education curriculum.

The group, chaired by DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe, includes:

  • Darrin Araki, executive director, Hawaii Pastors Roundtable
  • Dr. Robert Bidwell, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Manoa
  • Karen Ginoza, representative of He’e Coalition and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE)
  • Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, parent representative
  • Noella Kong, state adolescent health coordinator, Hawaii State Department of Health
  • Justin Mew, principal of Kaiser High School; former principal of Niu Valley Middle School and former science teacher
  • Donna Rodenhurst, health teacher, King Intermediate School
  • Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, director of culture, Halau Lokahi Public Charter School

The working group meets again on Feb. 27 and welcomes public input through noon on Feb. 26 via email at hipublicschools@gmail.com. All feedback will be logged and shared with group members. Individuals should not resubmit testimony already provided to the BOE.

The working group will spend as much time as necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pono Choices prior to issuing a public report.

In November, the DOE temporarily placed Pono Choices on hold to address concerns about whether the curriculum was aligned with health education state law and policy. A subsequent UH review of its copyrighted curriculum concluded Pono Choices met the standards.

Senator Malama Solomon on the Hawaii Business News “Geothermal Article”

Senator Malama Solomon responded to the following Hawaii Business News article:

Click to read article

Click to read article

Your report on geothermal energy (HB November 2013, “Geothermal is a Red-Hot Topic”) failed to make some very important points about why geothermal would improve the quality of life for all of us in Hawaii.

• Geothermal is used worldwide and can be applied to Hawaii. According to the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are several regions worldwide with geothermal and geologic conditions very similar to Hawaii, such as Iceland and New Zealand. Both nations benefit from electrical rates of up to 12 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to Hawaii’s average of 32 cents/kwh. DLNR also points out that these two countries, plus Japan and Indonesia, have seen decades of safe and economical use of geothermal energy.

• Safeguards are already in place. “The State of Hawaii has developed a thorough series of procedures to review, regulate and oversee the development of geothermal resources,” says DLNR Chair William Aila. “This includes the drilling of all geothermal wells, the protection of underground sources of drinking water, safe well construction techniques, and seismic monitoring.”

Also, geothermal development projects are required by Chapter 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to develop an Environmental Impact Statement, which includes public disclosure of potential impacts and proposed mitigations measures that are subject to public hearings and a public comment period before any project can proceed forward. “These processes are already in place ensure the protection of the environment, natural and cultural resources, and the public’s health and safety,” Alia says.

• Geothermal has Hawaiian support. “Hawaiians have supported and continue to support geothermal development on Hawaii Island,” says Mililani Trask of the Innovations Development Group. She points out geothermal development has received support by the largest Hawaiian organization, the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Hawaiian energy producers and land owners, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who has also invested in a Hawaiian company seeking to develop the resource on Hawaii Island.

We have a great opportunity to responsibly develop geothermal to provide clean, renewable and firm power to our homes and businesses at a lower cost.

Sen. Malama Solomon

Senate District 4 (Hilo, Hāmākua, Waimea, Kohala, Waikoloa and Kona)

Governor Abercrombie Names Dr. Linda Rosen as Department of Health Director

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the appointment of Dr. Linda Rosen as director of the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Rosen’s appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation.

Dr. Linda Rosen

Dr. Linda Rosen

“Linda has more than 30 years of experience in the medical field and has held administrative positions for more than a decade,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Drawing from existing leadership within the Health Department, I have full confidence that Linda will continue the significant progress realized under late Director Loretta Fuddy for the remainder of her term.”

With the DOH since 2000, Dr. Rosen has served as medical director of the Family Health Services Division and Pediatric Emergency Services, deputy director for Health Resources Administration and, most recently, chief of the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, where she was responsible for administering a comprehensive emergency medical services system, including 911 ambulance services, trauma system development and community injury prevention.

Dr. Rosen is a pediatrician by training, working in the emergency and critical care and neonatology departments at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children from 1985 to 2000. She has also been a faculty member of the John A. Burns School of Medicine since 1987, as assistant and associate professor of pediatrics, and is currently an associate clinical professor of pediatrics and surgery.

Serving on a number of health boards and committees, Dr. Rosen is particularly passionate about reducing death, disability and health disparities through the application of a comprehensive public health approach to illness and injury, focusing on primary prevention and risk reduction.

A graduate of Punahou School, Dr. Rosen earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine and a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

37 Facilities in Hawaii Reported 2.7 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemicals Being Released in 2012

Nationally, total releases of toxic chemicals decreased 12 percent from 2011-2012, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report and Pacific Southwest state fact sheets published today.

In Hawaii, a total of 37 facilities reported a total of 2.7 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2012. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to 2011 data.

Highlights of data from 2012 in Hawaii show that since 2011:

  • Air: Air releases increased 2 percent
  • Water: Water releases increased 6 percent
  • On-Site Land: On-site land releases increased 46 percent.
  • Underground Injection: Underground Injection releases increased 21 percent
  • Off-Site Transfers: Total off-site transfers have decreased 9 percent

For detailed Hawaii information and the state’s Top 5 releasing facilities please see the state fact sheet at http://www.epa.gov/region9/tri/report/12/tri-2012-hawaii-report.pdf

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

“Our yearly analysis of chemicals being used by industry helps residents understand which chemicals are used in their neighborhoods,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This year we have enhanced our fact sheet system to aid in getting TRI information about specific locations.”

New for this year is an updated fact sheet system that allows users to explore customized data. Scroll down at the link www.epa.gov/tri to enter your zip code, city, or county, and the new tool will create a fact sheet to show you toxic releases near you.

The annual TRI report provides citizens with critical information about their communities. The TRI Program collects data on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water, and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country.

The TRI data reports are submitted annually to EPA, states, and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste. Many of the releases from facilities that are subject to TRI reporting are regulated under other EPA program requirements designed to limit harm to human health and the environment.

Release data alone are not sufficient to determine exposure or to calculate potential risks to human health and the environment. TRI data, in conjunction with other information, such as the toxicity of the chemical, the release medium (e.g., air), and site-specific conditions, may be used to evaluate exposures from releases of toxic chemicals.

Kupuna Talk-Story Night Offered

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation cordially invites the public to a “Kupuna Talk-Story Night: Perpetuating the Art of Storytelling” event at 5:30 p.m. Friday, February 28, at Waiākea-Uka Park in Hilo.

countylogo

Noted kupuna will share their first-hand stories of old Hawai‘i. Admission is free. Families and individuals of all ages are welcome.

Waiākea-Uka Park is located at 1200 Ainaola Drive and includes Stanley Costales Gymnasium. The talk-story session will be held on the gym’s lanai.

For more details, please call Mark Osorio at 959-9474.

 

Hawaii Senate Tables Bill Legalizing Marijuana

Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee Defers Bill Legalizing Marijuana.  Advances Bills Decriminalizing Marijuana, Providing Medical Amnesty for Calling 911 for Overdose Emergency.
Marijuana LeafThe Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee today deferred Senate Bill 2733, a bill that would have legalized marijuana in Hawaii.

“We felt Hawaii was not ready for legalization at this time,” said Espero. “With the passage of legalization bills in Colorado and Washington, however, these states will be test sites to see how legalization impacts the states and their residents.”

Another measure, Senate Bill 2358, which would decriminalize marijuana, was passed unanimously and will now go to the Judiciary and Labor Committee.  First time offense would be a $100 fine; second offense $250; three or more $500. No prison time would be involved.

The committee also advanced Senate Bill 2215, which would provide medical amnesty for those who call 911 when someone is overdosing.  “Many Hawaii residents have died because people are afraid to call for help when they are with someone overdosing.  This measure is a good Samaritan bill that gives limited immunity to those who seek medical assistance,” said Espero

90-Year-Old Big Island Man Dies After Shed Collapses on Him

HPDBadgeA 90-year-old man died Tuesday (February 11) from injuries he sustained when a storage shed on his property collapsed on him. He was identified as Walter K. Sugi of a Hōnaunau address.

Police determined that Sugi had crawled under the shed to retrieve an item when the building fell on him. Fire/Rescue personnel responded and extracted Sugi.

He was taken to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m.

The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest. Police have ordered an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Hospice of Hilo Launches Hawaii Palliative Care Center

Hospice of Hilo has launched the Hawai‘i Palliative Care Center (HPCC) at the Pōhai Mālama a Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Care Center.

pallat

HPCC will provide a team dedicated to meeting the complex care needs of individuals diagnosed with a life-threatening, and in many cases, a life-limiting illness. This service will partner with patients’ existing physicians and specialists, and alongside current treatments, to help patients and families navigating the healthcare system, address pain and symptoms, and clarify care planning options.

“Health care is complicated and there are many people unnecessarily suffering because they are not receiving the kind of comfort care, pain management, and navigational support they need,” said Hospice of Hilo CEO Brenda S. Ho. “We hope to offer an extra layer of support that will help patients and families find peace in the chaos of their serious illness.”

According to the Center to Advance Palliative Care, the program’s goal is to, “improve the quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support [… ] it is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.”

Hospice of Hilo has recruited Dr. Frances Spector to serve as the Palliative Care Physician of HPCC and Joanne Potts as the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Dr. Spector brings over 40 years of Palliative Care experience and was previously the Medical Director of Hospice Care at the Kaiser Permanente, Oakland Medical Center.

HPCC includes a physician’s office, a patient exam room, and a reception area. Prior to HPCC, palliative care services were non-existent in the acute and long-term care facilities in the community spanning Laupahoehoe to South Point.

“Since the overall population in the service area is relatively small, the best option to provide this service was to create a partnership between Hospice of Hilo and the East Hawai‘i Region of Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation,” said Ho.

Through this collaboration, the HPCC team will also offer palliative care consultation services and support for patients and their families in both the acute and long term care departments at Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘ū Hospital, Hale Ho‘ola Hāmākua, and Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

“Our patients need more support when they are diagnosed with a life-threatening or life-limiting disease,” said East Hawai`i region Hawaii Health Systems Corporation CEO Howard Ainsley. “Many of these patients would benefit greatly from comprehensive pain and symptom management and care coordination as they seek curative treatment. This is why we strongly support Hospice of Hilo’s efforts to create the only Palliative Care Center on the island of Hawai`i.”

More information can be found at http://www.hospiceofhilo.org or by calling (808) 934-2913.

South Kona Fatality Update

An autopsy was conducted Friday (February 7) on the body of 52-year-old Matthew B. Lee of Kailua-Kona, who died Wednesday (February 5) in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway around the 71.5 mile marker.

HPDBadgeThe medical examiner determined that Matthew B. Lee died from a medical condition and not from injuries sustained in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has reclassified the negligent homicide investigation to a coroner’s inquest.

As a result, the traffic fatality count has been reduced to three fatalities this year compared with seven at this time last year.

Natural Farming Learning Lab Grows Healthy Community in Kohala

On Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 9 am – 2 pm, the Palili ‘O Kohala project welcomes the Hawai‘i Island community to attend the blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab in Hawi, North Kohala. The program will include Hawaiian music, local food, workshops, demonstrations and a blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab, including the new Natural Farming Pig and Chicken House. The cost is $15 per person (children under 10 are free) and includes a Kohala grown lunch.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Afternoon workshops include: Introduction to Natural Farming with Chris Trump, from Cho Global Natural Farming Co-op; Raising pigs using Natural Farming with Mike DuPonte from the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; Taro Cultivation with Bert Kanoa and his students from Palili ‘O Kohala and Ka Hana No‘eau; Making Natural Farming inputs with Palili ‘O Kohala families and Ka Hana No‘eau students.

Hawaiian Ki Hō‘alu slack key guitar master Cyril Pahinui will be headlining the musical slate as well as teaching a mini-workshop in playing ukulele.

There will be ongoing talks and demonstrations on: poi pounding; raising chickens the Natural Farming way; Natural Farming, Hawaiian Saddle Making and more with the mentors and students of Ka Hana No‘eau; ukulele making with Guy Sasaki and his students from the Ka Hana No‘eau ukulele making class, and; learning about ‘uala (sweet potato) and the Kohala dryland field system with Ulu Mau Puanui.

 

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala is a project of Kohala-based non-profit Kahua Pa‘a Mua, Inc. The Palili ‘O Kohala project is a ten family taro growing cooperative that addresses food self-sufficiency, food security and economic development in North Kohala. The project provides training, as well as resources for the growing, processing and distribution of taro and value added products from taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. The Natural Farming Learning Lab has been created to demonstrate the efficacy of and teach others about Natural Farming methods of growing taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. Natural Farming is a methodology that uses “indigenous microorganisms” to increase yields, eliminate the use of chemicals and reduce needs for water in crop management and animal husbandry.

The North Kohala community, in its County mandated Community Development Plan (CDP) is committed to 50% community food self-sufficiency by 2018. The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala are part of the community effort to reach that goal by cultivating traditional crops and using Natural Farming to grow chemical free food.

The Palili ‘O Kohala project has been generously supported by County of Hawai‘i County Council, County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, Local Initiatives Fund of RSF Social Finance, Honsador Lumber, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawai‘i Community Foundation Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund and Partners in Development Foundation. Community partners include Partners in Development Foundation Ka Hana No‘eau and North Kohala Eat Locally Grown.

Tickets are limited and advance purchase is required. Tickets can be bought online at foodhubkohala.org, in person at the EBT Booth at the Hawi Farmers Market or by phone at 808-224-1404. For information please visit foodhubkohala.org.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $19.1 Million for State Hospital Facilities

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $19.1 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) that will upgrade and improve eight Hawaii Health Systems Corporation facilities.

“These projects will go toward replacements, renovations and upgrades to our aging infrastructure at several state hospital facilities across the state,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “In addition to increasing safety and functionality, these projects, part of more than $2.1 billion in capital improvement projects released since I took office, will further stimulate our economy and generate more local jobs.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$4,000,000 – Kona Community Hospital Renovations and Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Address increased activity in the pharmacy, bring obstetric area to current standards, fix leaking showers, upgrade security doors, and continuation of the ER model

$2,200,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Kauai – Repair and expand existing air conditioning system, which has become prone to mechanical breakdowns

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite

$2,100,000 – Hilo Medical Center Angiography Suite Renovation/Upgrade, Hawaii Island – Existing equipment will be brought to current standards and enable patients to receive greater level of service, while reducing the need for patients to seek services on neighbor islands

$1,590,000 – Hilo Medical Center Laundry Washers and Dryers Replacement, Hawaii Island – Design and equipment for the siting and installation of laundry washers and dryers; majority of the washers are more than 22 years old and requires costly repairs; washers and dryers service Hilo Medical Center, Kau Hospital, and Hale Hoola Hamakua

$1,219,000 – Maluhia Hospital Air Conditioning System Upgrade, Oahu – Replace old equipment on the first, second, and third floors; existing air conditioning system is old and the replacement of the air handler units and other related equipment are necessary to improve air temperature and humidity for patients

$1,100,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Exterior Doors Replacement, Kauai – Replace exterior doors that are beyond repair; portion is nailed shut; doors need to be functional in case of emergencies

$850,000 – Hilo Medical Center Fire Alarm and Fire Suppression Systems Upgrade/Replacement, Hawaii Island – Upgrade and replace fire alarm and fire suppression systems to protect the health and safety of patients, visitors, and employees; existing system will be redesigned to meet current national fire protection requirements

$820,000 – Maluhia Hospital Dietary Electrical System and Emergency Generator Upgrade, Oahu – Existing electrical system in the Dietary Department is not connected to back-up power, and refrigerated foods would not be kept cool in the event of a power outage; when improvements are implemented, the hospital will have back-up power to keep Dietary in operation at all times

$800,000 – Maui Memorial Medical Center Air Conditioning System Replacement, Maui – Project will focus on patient care rooms in the East, South and West Wings, electrical rooms, pharmacy and laundry areas; existing air conditioning system has become prone to mechanical breakdowns and needs to be replaced

$750,000 – Hilo Medical Center Long-Term Care Facility, Hawaii Island – Planning of a new long-term care facility to replace the existing long-term care facility that no longer meets Medicare and Medicaid survey requirements

$600,000 – Leahi Hospital Reroofing, Oahu – The facility is more than 30 years old, and replacement of the roof is needed due to leaks

$500,000 – Leahi Hospital Walk-In Freezer and Refrigerators Replacement, Oahu – Current walk-in freezer and refrigerators are old and deteriorating with ice accumulating in the walls around the structure; project will also cool the food assembly area in the Dietary Department, which does not meet temperature requirements established by the Federal Survey Standards

$500,000 – West Kauai Medical Center Nurse Call and Baby Abduction System Replacement, Kauai – The existing system is more than 38 years old and parts are no longer available; with the new call system, communications between the nurse stations and patient rooms and for the baby abduction system will become more reliable

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Patient Dining Room Renovation, Kauai – The existing patient dining room is closed due to termite infestation, which has made the area a hazardous place for both patients and staff; patients are currently using a temporary dining room

$500,000 – Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital Nurse Call and Patient Wandering System Replacement, Kauai – The current system is more than 30 years old and replacement parts are no longer available

$384,000 – Leahi Hospital Trotter Building for Memory and Behavior Unit Renovation – Renovate Trotter Building to construct a Memory and Behavior Unit; there is a need for a Memory and Behavior Unit to accept more patients

$250,000 – Hilo Medical Center Patient Security System and Security Access System, Hawaii Island – Equipment for a patient security system and security access system to guard against infant abductions, dementia/Alzheimer patient elopements, and unauthorized access to sensitive areas; the system will also provide for the safety and security of patients, employees, and visitors, and meet the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Joint Commission regulations

$201,000 – Kau Hospital Renovations, Hawaii Island – Repairs to address items discovered during renovations of the roof, doors, windows, and air filtration and cooling systems, and hazardous material abatement; addresses repairs before additional renovations begin at the location

$199,000 – Kau Hospital Pluming Upgrades, Hawaii Island – Most of the pipes are more than 40 years old and require frequent repairs; in June, the hospital septic tanks were found to be corroding and posing a potential hazard to the integrity of the wastewater system; funds are needed to finance the engineering assessment and repair the system; the remainder of the funds will be used to design the plumbing upgrade within the facility

$75,000 – Kau Hospital Energy Audit, Hawaii Island – Determine cost-efficient ways to reduce energy usage and install energy-saving equipment such as variable frequency drives, controlling devices or programs, or modifying existing systems

$50,000 – Lanai Community Hospital Emergency Generator Replacement, Lanai – Transfer of Maui Memorial Medical Center’s generator that is no longer needed at the facility

Governor Abercrombie Releases $475,000 in CIP Funds for Ka’u Hospital

Senator Russell Ruderman just announced on Facebook the following release of funds for the Ka’u Hospital on the Big Island:

Kau Hospital

I am very happy to announce that today I received notification from Governor Abercrombie that he has released $475,000 in CIP funds for the Ka’u Hospital Renovations, Repairs, and Maintenance.

“It gives me great satisfaction to share with you that my Administration is releasing the following Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds for work in your District:

Ka’u Hospital, Hospital Renovations – $201,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Energy Audit) – $75,000

HHSC, Repair and Maintenance Projects, Statewide (Ka’u Hospital, Plumbing Upgrade) – $199,000

I understand how important these projects are to the people you serve in your District. Thank you for your work in securing these projects and I look forward to working together to see its completion.”

I appreciate the Governor’s New Day Work Projects initiative and thank him for his personal attention to this matter. The release of CIP funds for renovations to Ka’u Hospital is a welcome influx of needed funding to improve the infrastructure and safety for our community and projects like this will help improve the safety and health of our community in addition to help reduce unemployment in our district.

Medical Examiner Defers Cause of Death Following Autopsy of Man that Died After Being Arrested

An autopsy was conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona, who died Tuesday in the course of an arrest.

Randall Hatori

Randall Hatori

The medical examiner deferred the cause of death pending toxicology and histology results.

At 12:30 a.m. Tuesday (February 4), a Kona Patrol officer made a traffic stop at a gas station in a shopping center on Palani Road. The driver, 38-year-old Ernest Ricky Alvarez of Kailua-Kona, was arrested on a $10,000 bench warrant for contempt of court.

Hatori, who was a passenger and was wanted for assault and violating temporary restraining orders, fled on foot.

The officer pursued Hatori on foot and a struggle ensued while trying to apprehend him. Initially unable to restrain Hatori, the officer deployed his conducted electric weapon (commonly known as a “Taser”) in an attempt to subdue him. Hatori continued to actively resist arrest and the struggle continued. Other officers responded to the scene and assisted in restraining Hatori. After Hatori was placed in handcuffs, he became unresponsive.

Fire Department EMTs on scene attempted resuscitation and then transported him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:53 a.m.

Detectives recovered 7.3 grams of methamphetamine at the scene of the struggle.

The Police Department’s Area II Criminal Investigations Section is continuing to investigate this incident as a coroner’s inquest and an assault on a police officer.

In addition, the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation, as is standard practice in any police involved death.

Alvarez remains at the Kona police cellblock while police investigate possible drug charges.

House Health Committee Passes Measures to Convert Health Connector From Private to State Agency

Moves to improve transparency, accountability and sustainability include changes to board membership of the Connector and creation of a state innovation waiver task force under the Affordable Care Act

The House Committee on Health today passed a number of measures addressing transparency, accountability and sustainability issues nagging the Hawaii Health Connector since its start up.The Health Connector is the state’s enrollment portal for coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Connector was created to match low income residents and small businesses with subsidized or affordable health plans under the ACA.

“I want to be clear that these measures are a work in progress and allows us to continue to establish a better framework and foundation so that the Health Connector can successfully move forward in fulfilling the goals of the Affordable Care Act,” said Representative Della Au Belatti (Makiki, Tantalus, Papakolea, McCully, Pawaa, Manoa), who chairs the House Committee on Health.

“Even as the healthcare landscape changes around us,we need to be able to respond to the developing rules and regulations to allow the Health Connector to move forward in achieving its mission.”

HB2529

The centerpiece for the package of amended and approved bills is H.B. 2529, H.D. 1, which converts the Health Connector from a private non-profit entity to a State agency and initially places it under the Office of the Governor.

“It says something about the importance we place on this agency and the work it does on behalf of the people of Hawaii when we place it under the direct auspices of the Governor,” Belatti says.

The bill also creates a task force whose primary goal will be to develop a health reform plan to obtain a state innovation waiver from certain requirements of the ACA. This will allow the State

to be more innovative in its approach to fulfilling the goals and objectives of the Affordable Care Act while taking into consideration Hawaii’s unique health care environment and Hawaii’s Pre-paid Health Care Act.

“Given the low uninsured rate that Hawaii has enjoyed because of Hawaii’s groundbreaking Pre-paid Health Care Act, we believe that we have a good case to put before health officials in Washington D.C.,” Belatti said.

One of the more serious concerns of the committee was the current board’s inability to come up with a workable sustainability strategy for the long term. The creation of a sustainability fee would address some of those concerns over the next two years after federal funding ends in December 2014 and as the task force works on a more long-term solution.

The bill also creates greater accountability and transparency by requiring the Connector to comply with chapter 103F of the state procurement code, imposing public hearing and notice requirements pursuant to state statutes, changes the makeup of the Health Connector’s board of directors, broadens the appointing authority of Board members from the Governor to include the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, and creates greater opportunities for public participation in the Health Connector through a consumer, patient, business and health care advisory group.

H.B 2529, H.D. 1, along with other companion bills, move on to hearings in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

10th Annual Grow Hawaiian Festival at Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden

Hawai‘i Forest and Trail Presents A Grow Hawaiian Weekend

The 10th Annual Grow Hawaiian Weekend on Friday and Saturday,  February 21 and 22, is a celebration of Hawaiian cultural and natural history at Amy Greenwell Garden in Captain Cook.  Admission to the Garden will be free on those two days, and all of the activities are free.

Kai'uhane Morton

Ka’uhane Morton demonstrates how to make nose flutes

On Friday, February 21, between 1 p.m. and 4 pm., the public is invited to the Garden Visitor Center to join Greenwell Garden staff, taro experts Jerry Konanui and Keahi Tomas, and local school children in ku‘i kalo—poi pounding.  Boards and stones and cooked taro will be available for everyone from beginners to experts to try their hand at this traditional culinary art.  Also on Friday at 1 p.m., the Guided Hawaiian Plant Walk is a docent led tour of the Garden landscape of the plants of Hawai‘i in the 1600s.

The Grow Hawaiian festival takes place at the Garden on Saturday, February 22 from 9:00-2:30 pm.  Speakers will make presentations on taro cultivation, conservation, horticulture, and lauhala weaving, and artisans will demonstrate ipu gourd decorating, kapa making, weaving, woodworking, lei making, taro cultivation, and Hawaiian dyes.  There will be hands-on activities for the keiki and adults, plant and insect identification booths, displays, live entertainment, Hawaiian food, and much more!

Visitors can learn about the movement to provision Hawaiian voyaging canoes by using food grown in Hawai‘i so that the crews of the long distant canoes can eat healthy, sustainable, traditional foods as they travel across the Pacific and around the world.  There will also be a presentation on olonā cordage.  The bark of olonā has strong, durable fiber that was made into fishing line, nets, and other items for traditional life.

Some of the foremost experts in native plants and Hawaiian ethnobotany will lead tours of the Garden, and authors will be on hand to sign their books.  A silent auction will be held where visitors will have a chance to bid on poi boards, poi stones, and other traditional objects.

For more information call 323-3318, visit www.bishopmuseum.org/greenwell,  or email agg@bishopmuseum.org.  Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden is Bishop Museum’s native plant arboretum, located 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, just south of mile marker 110.

The 10th Annual Grow Hawaiian Festival is, presented by Hawai‘i Forest and Trail.   Support for this event  is also provided by Kūki‘o,  and Kealakekua Ranch, Ltd.  An award from the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority funds the Guided Native Plant Walks.  Anyone who requires an auxiliary aid or service for effective communication or a modification of policies and procedures to participate in the Hawaiian Plant Walks should contact Peter Van Dyke at 808-323-3318 at least two weeks before their planned visit.

Wordless Wednesday: Invasion – Little Fire Ants in Hawaii (The Movie)

Invasive species introductions to Hawaii often end in regret and a list of should-haves.

little fire antThis film, produced by the Maui Invasive Species Committee, aims to change the result of the arrival of little fire ants in Hawaii.

Featuring videography from award-winning film makers Masako Cordray and Chris Reickert, this half-hour film examines the biology, impacts, and potential solutions to the spread of little fire ants through interviews with scientists, farmers, and community on the Big Island reeling from the impacts of this minuscule, but devastating, ant.

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Little Fire Ant – Queen and worker ant

Viewers will learn how to identify and report new infestations, helping to protect Hawaii from this small stinging ant.

More info here: http://www.lfa-hawaii.org/