Hawaii Team Attends National Zika Action Plan Summit Held at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today held a Zika Action Plan Summit, bringing together state and local senior officials to provide them with the information and tools needed to improve Zika preparedness and response within their state and jurisdictions. A delegation of leaders from the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) are attending the summit at CDC Headquarters in Atlanta to share their experiences and learn from their counterparts across the country.

This timely opportunity comes as the state is experiencing an uptick in imported Zika cases, among other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever and chikungunya.

Attendees were provided with presentations on the latest scientific knowledge about the Zika virus, including effects it can have on pregnant women and best-practices for mosquito control. One of the greatest challenges posed by this disease is that scientists are still learning more about Zika’s symptoms and how the disease can be transmitted.

“The summit provided an excellent opportunity for Hawaii to share our experience and knowledge while learning from other states about specific issues around the science behind Zika. This is especially important for our nation as we head into the summer months, when temperatures will rise and travel into and out of the country will peak,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler.

“It is crucial for Hawaii to have a unified outreach and response plan that is both scalable and flexible, and easily implemented at all levels of government.”

The summit also provided an opportunity to discuss communications challenges and effective strategies for increasing public awareness about Zika virus and precautionary measures that all people should take, especially pregnant women and women planning on becoming pregnant.

microcephaly

Pregnant women need to take special precautions against Zika virus and should avoid travel to areas where Zika is spreading. If a Zika infected mosquito bites a woman that is pregnant or may become pregnant, the Zika virus can be passed to her baby during pregnancy or at the time of birth. Scientists believe the Zika virus may be linked to microcephaly in newborns, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with other babies of the same sex and age.

Scientists also believe that Zika virus can be spread from an infected man to his sexual partners. It is still unknown how long the virus can be spread in this way after the infected male’s symptoms have cleared.

Most people who contract the Zika virus will have mild or no symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika include rash, joint pain and red eyes (conjunctivitis), but can also include muscle pain and headaches. DOH urges people who are showing symptoms and have a recent history of travel to areas experiencing Zika outbreaks, to see their healthcare provider as soon as possible for testing.

For additional information about Zika virus and precautions, visit DOH’s Disease Outbreak Control Division’s website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/zika_virus/.

For travel information and advisories, visit CDC’s website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

DLNR Announces Appointment of Hearings Officer for Mauna Kea Contested Case Hearing

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) announced today that retired Hawaii island circuit court judge Riki May Amano (Ret.) has been selected as the hearings officer to conduct the Mauna Kea contested case hearing relating to the application for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case issued a minute order to the contested case parties today announcing Judge Amano’s selection.

TMT laser

Judge Amano was selected pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes section 103D-304. HRS 103D-104 requires DLNR to assemble and vet a list of applicants. The list is reviewed by a selection committee, which ranks at least three candidates. The DLNR Chairperson then negotiates a contract with the first ranked person. If the DLNR Chairperson is unable to successfully negotiate a contract with the first ranked person, then he or she attempts to negotiate a contract with the next ranked person. In this case, Chairperson Case was able to successfully negotiate a contract with Judge Amano as the first ranked applicant of the selection committee.

The selection committee consisted of:

  • James Duffy, Associate Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court (Ret.);
  • Stella Kam, Deputy Attorney General;
  • Christopher Yuen, Member of the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR).

Any comments on and objections to this appointment shall be filed no later than April 15, 2016, 4:30 p.m. at DLNR Administrative Proceedings Office, 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm. 130, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.

Judge Amano will determine the schedule for the contested case hearing.

Judge Amano served as a judge in the district and circuit courts of the Third Judicial Circuit, State of Hawaii from February 1992 until her retirement in April 2003. Judge Amano has been recognized annually as a Best Lawyer in America/Hawaii from 2007 to the present. Judge Amano was born and raised in Hilo; she currently resides in Honolulu. She completed her undergraduate education in 1976 with a BA degree in Political Science and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii in 1979. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Amano was a deputy attorney general assigned to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Transportation and Labor and Industrial Relations; and in private practice from 1981 until 1991.

NASA Mathematician Speaks to Parker Students on the Big Island of Hawaii

On Tuesday, March 8, Parker middle school students were treated to a presentation by Carol Davies, a mathematician who worked for NASA for more than 30 years.

Retired NASA mathematician, Carol Davies, recently spoke to Parker middle school students to show the connection between math and space travel, as well as to inspire girls to pursue STEM fields.

Retired NASA mathematician, Carol Davies, recently spoke to Parker middle school students to show the connection between math and space travel, as well as to inspire girls to pursue STEM fields.

Davies shared examples from her many projects at NASA to show students the connection between mathematics and space travel, as well as to inspire girls to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Students were engrossed with Davies’ presentation which discussed the accuracy of the mathematics behind the recent Hollywood blockbuster movie “The Martian”, the demotion of Pluto from being a planet and details behind some of Jupiter’s 67 moons.

Additionally, Davies showed students a copy of the plaques placed on Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecrafts sent into interstellar space in the 1970s.  These plaques were intended to provide information about Earth and humans should they be intercepted by extraterrestrial life.

Davies worked with NASA on the design of re-entry vehicles used in the space program including the Galileo mission to Jupiter and Pioneer missions. Retired from NASA, Davies volunteers as a docent at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Waimea.

Reply From Hilo Medical Center to Senator Kahele’s Helipad Safety Concerns

Helipad

Dan Brinkman, Regional CEO East Hawaii Region HHSC, replied to Senator Kai Kahele’s letter yesterday about the Senators concerns over the Hilo Medical Center’s Helipad:

Dear Senator Kahele,

Several weeks ago we gave HLF notice that we would not be renewing their MOA with us when it expires in April. We asked HLF to locate its helicopter at HIA instead of the HMC helipad. Among other issues, the repeated failure of HLF to meet its MOA commitments to move its rotor within the agreed upon time parameters……when other rotors needed access, was a significant factor in the non renewal. At the expiration of the MOA, the helicopter will no longer be located on the helipad

As an aside, the East Hawaii Regional Board is the governing body for decisions that directly affect the well being of the East Hawaii community. Both HMC administration and our board welcome your continued input and involvement in improving the health and safety of our constituents.

It is good to be on the same page…
Aloha, Dan

Dan Brinkman
Regional CEO East Hawaii Region HHSC