Rockfall Triggers Explosive Event at Halema’uma’u

Just after 10 AM this morning, the southeastern wall of the Overlook crater, in Halemaʻumaʻu, collapsed and fell into the summit lava lake.

This image is a still taken from the webcam positioned on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu at that location, showing spatter in the air directly in front of the camera.

This image is a still taken from the webcam positioned on the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu at that location, showing spatter in the air directly in front of the camera.

This triggered a small explosive event that threw spatter bombs onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu at the site of the tourist overlook, closed since 2008.

The lava fragments ejected ranged in size from dust-sized particles up to spatter bombs about 70 cm (~30 inches) across.

The larger clasts – the bombs – dotted the ground around the tourist overlook and webcam, giving the area a look reminiscent of a cow pasture.

The larger clasts – the bombs – dotted the ground around the tourist overlook and webcam, giving the area a look reminiscent of a cow pasture.

As has been seen with almost all previous explosive events at Halemaʻumaʻu since 2008, the spatter that was ejected was coated in dust and filled with small lithic fragments – clear evidence of the involvement of lithic wall rock.

The knife is 12 cm (4.5 in) long.

The knife is 12 cm (4.5 in) long.

Spatter landed on wooden fencing laying on the ground at the closed tourist overlook, igniting it in a few places.

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The part of the Overlook crater wall that collapsed is evident in the center of this photo by its white color.

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Pāhoa District Park Project Groundbreaking to Be Held July 31

A public groundbreaking ceremony for the Pāhoa District Park project will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 31, at the park.

Pahoa Park Rendering

Join Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Council members Greggor Ilagan and Zendo Kern, Parks Director Clayton Honma, and other dignitaries as they signify the start of the biggest recreational project in Hawai‘i County history. The $22.3 million, yearlong construction project will more than double the size of Pāhoa Park and deliver increased recreational opportunities to one of Hawai‘i Island’s fastest-growing communities.

Refreshments and light pupu will be served.

Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site on August 4. During the following 12 months, it will construct a covered play court building, two lighted baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, one of which will be lighted for nighttime use, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas.

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing 15 acres of developed recreational facilities that include a 50-meter swimming pool, community center, senior center, and skate park.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Resource Caregivers Receive Increased Board Payments

Families that care for children placed with the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Service (CWS) Branch will receive a foster board pay increase, effective July 1, 2014. Called resource caregivers, families will receive their first increased payment in August.

Department of Human Services

To ensure that resource caregivers receive the funds necessary to provide safe, healthy, and nurturing environments for children awaiting permanent placement, the DHS requested a legislative appropriation of $8,502,936 in 2014. The budget request was passed in its entirety as part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s 2014 executive budget package.

“Hawaii’s rate increase is based on the DHS’ review of foster care rates and practices in 46 other states,” explained DHS Director Patricia McManaman, “and the benefits that Hawaii resource families currently receive in addition to tax-free monthly foster care payments.”

Children enter and exit the foster care system throughout the year. They can remain in resource family homes for days, months, or years in some cases. While siblings are often placed together, resource families also may care for two or more unrelated children.  In 2013, the average number of children per month in resource homes was 1,096.  In June 2014, a total of 1,156 children were in foster care across the State.

Representative Mele Carroll, Chair of the House Committee on Human Services, was a strong supporter of increasing foster board payments.  “The bill is a huge step forward to help support the foster families that are integral members of our communities.”  Her Senate counterpart, Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland agreed.  “I am very happy with the passage of this legislation and am grateful to the Department of Human Services, Governor, Legislature, advocates and foster families for this team effort!”

The increase in basic board payment also applies to families eligible for adoption assistance, permanency assistance, youth receiving higher education board allowance payments, and to young adults who choose to enroll in DHS’ new program of extended Voluntary Care to Age 21.

Foster board payment rates vary across the nation. Hawaii based its new rates on an age-tiered system indexed to documented costs contained in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Expenditures on Children by Families annual report.   The monthly per child payment to Hawaii resources caregivers has been increased from a base rate of $529 to $575 for 0-5 year olds, $650 for 6-11 year olds, and $676 for children aged 12 and above.

Similar to other states, Hawaii’s resource caregivers also receive QUEST health insurance benefits for their foster children, difficulty of care payments, and a clothing allowance. Difficulty of care payments are provided to resource caregivers that support children who require more intensive physical, emotional, psychological or behavioral care and supervision, as determined by a treating professional.

Resource families also are eligible to receive special circumstances or events payments, designated transportation costs (school bus fare or private car mileage, local bus fare) that effect child placement or promote family reunification, and $500 per child per year for extracurricular activities, social activities, hobbies, and camp funds.

Reimbursable costs include attendance at authorized meetings, respite care and child care coverage, limited liability insurance training, and  enhancements necessary for the child’s growth and development (e.g. Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, community soccer, community baseball, community swimming, Boys and Girls Clubs).

To learn more about becoming a resource care giver or attending one of the statewide informational briefings, please visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/ssd/home/child-welfare-services/foster-and-adoptive-care/ 

Big Island Police Charge Puna Man With 13 Offenses in Connection to Kidnapping

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 38-year-old Puna man with 13 offenses in connection with a kidnapping that led to a police pursuit and an attempt to run down two officers.

Riley Asuncion

Riley Asuncion

At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday (July 23), Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of third-degree assault, and one count each of kidnapping, terroristic threatening, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, fourth-degree theft, driving without a license, reckless driving and resisting an order to stop. His bail was set at $1,521,000. He remains in the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Thursday (July 24).

Investigation by the Area I Criminal Investigations Section determined that Asuncion illegally entered the sports-utility vehicle of a 30-year-old female acquaintance Monday morning without her knowledge. As the woman was driving on Kīlauea Avenue in Downtown Hilo, he surprised her from the back seat, assaulted her and gained control of the SUV. The woman was able to escape from the vehicle on Kinoʻole Avenue near Haihi Street.

Police responding to an 11:26 a.m. report of an apparent domestic incident in a pink SUV located the vehicle in the Panaʻewa area. The driver swerved in an attempt to ram a police vehicle and then fled to Stainback Highway, turned around on a side road and drove toward two officers, who had exited their police vehicles. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which then continued down Stainback Highway. It stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

Asuncion surrendered and was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment. Detectives determined that he was struck by one of the rounds, which caused a superficial wound to his torso. Asuncion was released from the hospital early Monday evening and taken to the Hilo police cellblock shortly before 7 p.m. while detectives continued the investigation.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. The two officers involved are on desk duty during the investigation. One is a six-year veteran police officer and the other has been an officer for approximately a year.

Hawaii’s Waitlist Trend Increased; Hospital Stays Shorter but Still Longer than Average

Statewide, between 6.9 and 7.8 percent of hospital admissions were waitlisted —that is, remaining in the hospital after the need for acute care ceases—over a five year period (2006-2011), according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Click to read report

Click to read report

Waitlist patients are those needing treatment after hospital discharge, but not at the severity level that requires inpatient care.  These patients often continue to stay in a hospital because there are limited available community placement options that meet the patient’s needs.

For Hawaii’s neighbor islands, however, the waitlist patterns are significantly different. On Maui, the rate ranged between 12 and 16 percent, whereas on Kauai, the rates varied between 8 and 10.5 percent. Except for 2007 and 2009 (7.7 and 9.2 percent, respectively), Hawaii Island’s rate was similar to the Oahu rate of 6 to 7 percent.

While there were more waitlisted patients statewide in 2011 than in 2006, they experienced shorter hospital stays, according to the HHIC analysis.  Compared to 2006 data, HHIC found that the 2011 average length of stay (ALOS) for waitlisted patients decreased 25 percent, from 21.7 to 16.5 days, across all counties except Maui, which increased 12 percent, from 16.8 to 18.8 days.

However, the ALOS for waitlist patients is still more than the average non-waitlisted patient—nearly four times longer. HHIC found that the risk of a patient being waitlisted increased with age and increased significantly with each decade of life.

Neighbor island hospitals experienced a higher cost and volume of waitlist patients than Oahu with chronic-related disease conditions including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, degenerative nervous system disorders and diabetes.

Bed availability does not appear to be a problem as there was an 11 percent increase in the number of long-term care beds statewide between 2006 and 2011. Appropriately matching the health needs of a waitlisted patient with a sufficiently staffed bed is likely an issue.

The key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient staff with higher skill-mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the needs of those with complex conditions, a lack of specialty equipment to provide appropriate care, the cost of multiple or high-cost antibiotics, and lack of community-based resources to support patients with underlying mentally illness in managing their other medical conditions.

“Our analyses make clear that the waitlist problem exists statewide but that has very special dimensions on each island,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Efforts by health plans, hospitals and other providers and community agencies need to take into account this variation as they work together to solve this vexing problem.”

About the Data
Findings are based on data collected from all hospitals across the state, except Tripler Army Medical Center.  The report was prepared based on funding provided by Hawaii Medical Service Association, Kaiser-Permanente, AlohaCare, Ohana Healthcare and United Healthcare, in an attempt to provide a clear description of Hawaii’s waitlist population and estimate the financial impact on Hawaii’s hospitals.

About HHIC/Health Knuggets
Established in 1994, HHIC maintains one of the largest comprehensive health care databases in the state, comprised of local and national inpatient, emergency department, ambulatory care, financial data and other data. The research and data compiled are analyzed and disseminated statewide and are used to help shape healthcare policy and educate decision makers, health care providers and industry experts. Through HHIC Knowledge Nuggets, the organization seeks to inform the public about important healthcare topics. For more information, visit www.hhic.org.

Man With Hate Rips Off State

The Hilo man who parks his truck at Lincoln Park and spews hateful words out of the back of his truck on cardboard signs has been convicted of obtaining benefits from the state illegally.

Facebook profile picture of James Borden

Facebook profile picture of James Borden

According to arrest records, James G. Borden, 64 of a Hilo address was indicted for Theft in the 2nd Degree on November 21, 2013. Borden was arrested at a Kapiolani Street address on December 17, 2013, and bail was set at $2,000.

Borden indictment 1

The indictment alleges that from April 1st, 2012 to April 30th, 2013, Borden obtained public assistance benefits “by deception” from Department of Health Services that totaled more then $300. He was initially charged with Theft in the 2nd Degree, but on July 11 Judge Glenn Hara accepted Borden’s plea of no contest to a reduced charge of Theft in the 3rd degree.

Borden up at the Hilo Pride Parade being a hate monger against everyone and anything

Borden up at the Hilo Pride Parade being a hate monger against everyone and anything

Borden filed a motion to defer acceptance of his no contest plea, and received a suspended jail sentence. Hara also ordered Borden to complete 50 hours of community service, and to repay the state Department of Human Services.

Borden List

Another condition of his release is that he must obtain and maintain legal and verifiable full time work or enroll in educational program. It’s unclear whether those court-ordered activities might interfere with his Lincoln Park demonstrations.