State and County Officials Seek Help in Big Island Wildfires – Arson is Possibility

A series of wildfires in the Puuanahulu area of Hawaii Island over the past week have prompted fire and police officials to ask people using the region to report any suspicious activity.

Photo snipped from Big Island Video News coverage

Photo snipped from Big Island Video News coverage

The latest fire sparked a little after midnight today, south of the Kona hunter check station in the Puuanahulu Game Management Unit.  Fire crews were able to extinguish the small brush fire quickly.  A county fire department investigator was called to the scene to look at the possibility this fire and three others over the past week were set intentionally.

More than 775 acres of mostly brush and grass burned, starting last Thursday in the same area.  The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) reports these fires are contained, though there may be occasional smoke from the interior.

DOFAW, the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Hawaii County Fire and Police Departments encourage anyone with information on these fires, or anyone who spots unusual activity in the Puuanahulu area to call 9-1-1 or 643-DLNR.

Big Island Video News posted the following video:

Updated Map Shows Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents island wide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

As of February 17, 2016:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 0 new case of dengue fever. Currently, as many as 1 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

As of today, a total of 1225 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Online Registry – Accelerates Access for Hawaii’s Patients

The Hawaii Department of Health’s medical marijuana registry program is now able to issue patient registration cards in a fraction of the time it took to process a year ago.

Medical Marijuana Registry ButtonWith the introduction of a new online registry, it now takes three to five business days for the department to issue medical marijuana registration cards to patients — a dramatic decrease from the six to eight weeks it previously took when there was a backlog of patients last year.

“Without compromising the integrity of our review process or the safety of Hawaii’s people, we brought everything up to speed and improved our processing time so that patients can receive their registration cards faster,” said Scottina Ruis, medical marijuana registry program coordinator for the Hawaii Department of Health.

Process Improvements

Ruis noted that some of the benefits of the new online registry system are having the physician certify the patients electronically and having the registration cards sent directly to patients. In the past, when the Department of Health issued registration cards, the cards were mailed to the certifying physicians for their signature then the certifying physician would give or mail the cards to their patients. The use of the physician’s electronic signature during the registration process allows the Department of Health to send the registration cards directly to the patients. Since the program requires that patients wait until they receive their registration card before they are authorized to use medical marijuana, the sooner they receive their card, the sooner they are protected by the program.

“Both patients and their physicians play a critical role in ensuring that registration cards can be issued promptly,” Ruis said. “Patients must make sure they complete the electronic registration form properly and submit all of the required documentation to their physician, electronically. Physicians must review the electronic registration form as well as electronically certify the patient’s condition before submitting the completed application to the Department of Health.”

The patient registration card includes information on the grow site which permits a qualifying patient or care giver to grow up to seven plants, which must be properly tagged in order to remain in compliance with the program. Inappropriately registered grow sites, unregistered grow sites and improperly tagged plants are not protected by the program and are subject to confiscation by law enforcement agencies.

Background

When oversight of the medical marijuana registry program was transferred from the Department of Public Safety to the Department of Health a little more than a year ago, there was a total of 11,402 unduplicated, registered patients in the program. That number steadily climbed in 2015, and today has reached more than 13,000 valid patients.

Anticipating Future Community Need “With the dispensary program targeted to be in operation as early as July 2016, medical marijuana will be more accessible. The online registration process is the first step to help ensure that we are ready for any increase in demand for registration cards,” Ruis said.

“To be optimally functional, better able to service existing and new patients, physicians, law enforcement, and to be responsive to the larger community, we need additional staff. We hope to receive funding for an additional staff in the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2016. This will help ensure that we are able to maintain this positive momentum and the timing would coincide with the targeted launch of the medical marijuana dispensary program when demand for cards could potentially increase,” Ruis said.

Importance of Physician Education

In the meantime, Ruis is looking at ways to enlist the support of more certifying physicians for the registration program. The Department of Health recommends that patients who feel they may be eligible for the program begin the discussion with the physician that is currently treating them for the debilitating medical condition for which they are seeking certification.

Ideally these physicians would seek continuing medical education courses specific to medical marijuana and how to best meet patient needs. “Education is a critical component of the medical marijuana program. We hope to be actively involved at all levels – physicians, health care professionals, patients and caregivers, law enforcement, and the general public,” Ruis said.

Google Adds Hawaiian Language to Translation Tool

I’m not sure how long this has existed… but today I noticed that Google has now added the Hawaiian Language to it’s Translation Tool.

I’m not sure how accurate it is because I don’t speak Hawaiian but this is what I tried out just now:

Hawaiian TranslationYou can check it out yourself here: https://translate.google.com/

Once again… I can’t tell you how accurate it is so be careful when using it as you may accidentally translate something incorrectly or even worse… say something that is offensive or offending!

Pāhala Swimming Pool Closing for Repairs Feb. 22 – March 4

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will close Pāhala Swimming Pool starting Monday, February 22, so the pool’s pump may be repaired.

County worker works on the Pahoa Pool last year

County worker works on the Pahoa Pool last year

This closure is expected to continue through Friday, March 4, 2016.

Normal operating hours are scheduled to resume on Saturday, March 5, when Pāhala Swimming Pool will be reopened for public recreational swim at 9 a.m.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the temporary closure might cause and thanks pool patrons for their understanding while the needed repairs are performed.

Operating schedules, events listing, and holiday closures for each of Hawai‘i County’s nine swimming pools are listed online at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/pr-aquatics/. Admission is free.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.