Applications Open for 2018-2019 Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship

The Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program (NHHSP), a program of Papa Ola Lōkahi (POL), is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications from students in health care and allied health professions for the 2018-2019 academic year. The deadline to apply online is March 18, 2018.

Awards are provided to students enrolled or enrolling full-time in an accredited college in Hawai‘i or the continental U.S. Benefits include tuition, other school related expenses, and a monthly stipend. Upon completion of the degree and required training and licensure, the recipient shall serve two to four years of full-time employment in designated medically underserved sites in Hawai‘i.

“Our applicants all demonstrate that they are exceptional college students,” asserts NHHSP director Keaulana Holt. “The ideal applicant will also understand the needs of their communities and be willing to apply their training and skills to improve the well-being back home.”

Applications are being accepted from students in clinical psychology, dentistry, dental hygiene, dietetics, marriage & family therapy, nursing, medicine, optometry, pharmacy, physician’s assistant, public health and social work.

Last years recipients

Nine scholarships were awarded earlier this year. More than 275 scholarship awards have been made in almost 20 different health and behavioral health disciplines since 1991.

“The success of this grow-your-own program is that the scholars and alumni all contribute to improving the health of the lāhui.” POL executive director Dr. Sheri-Ann Daniels says proudly. “Even better, they are becoming the leaders in our lāhui. We’re nurturing Hawaiians to serve Hawaiians.”

The entire application process is online. For more information about the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program visit our website at www.nhhsp.org.

Hawaii Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument Regarding the Parental Rights and Responsibilities of Married Same-Sex Couples

On December 14, 2017, the State of Hawaii presented oral argument to the Hawaii Supreme Court in the case of C.C. v. D.D., arguing that same-sex spouses must be treated as the presumed parents of children born during their marriage, just as opposite-sex spouses are.

The case involves a dispute between a former married same-sex couple regarding whether C.C. is a legal parent of a child conceived using anonymous donor sperm and born to D.D. during the marriage. C.C. is asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to rule that she is not a legal parent and has no obligation to pay child support because she is not biologically related to the child. The State of Hawaii submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of D.D., urging the Court to read Hawaii parentage law in a gender-neutral manner, as required by the Marriage Equality Act, and to apply the marital presumption of parentage equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples.

Attorney General Doug Chin

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “The State has a strong interest in ensuring that the Marriage Equality Act is properly enforced and that both same-sex and opposite-sex married couples are treated equally, so their children have the same opportunity to receive child support.”

At oral argument, Solicitor General Clyde Wadsworth said to the Court, “All means all. The Marriage Equality Act mandates that ‘all gender-specific terminology’ in ‘all sources of law’ regarding the rights and responsibilities of spouses must be construed in a gender-neutral manner. . . . So the presumption of parentage must be construed in a gender-neutral manner and applied equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.”

The Court took the matter under advisement and will later issue a written opinion.

Hawaii Supplemental Budget Proposal Builds on Progress Made in Education, Housing, Homelessness, Sustainability, Capital Improvements

Gov. Ige unveiled his Supplemental Budget proposal today, asking the State Legislature to continue supporting programs that tackle many of the challenges our communities face.

“Last year’s biennium budget invested in programs that have helped us address our state’s biggest problems. Evidence shows that we’ve made progress in many of our high priority areas, while being smart about managing taxpayer dollars,” said Gov. Ige.

Housing production is up. Homelessness is down nearly nine percent across the state. Our classrooms are cooler. Hawai‘i is a recognized national and international leader in sustainability and clean energy. And Moody’s Analytics reports that Hawai‘i is one of only 16 states with enough cash reserves to weather the “stress test” of another recession.

SUPPLEMENTAL BUDGET OVERVIEW

Operating:
FY 19 amendments total $85.5 million – an increase of .6 percent over FY 19 Operating appropriations in the biennium budget (all revenue sources).

Capital Improvements:
FY 19 amendments total $1.497 billion, an increase of 215 percent over FY 19 CIP appropriations in the biennium budget (all revenue sources).

The state’s improved G.O. bond ratings and lower interest rates make it a favorable time to invest in the state’s infrastructure. These capital projects have broad economic impact, supporting about 14,000 jobs of which 5,520 will be in the construction industry.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

Education:
• $2.8 million for the Hawaii Keiki program that provides school-based health services
• $1 million for the Early College High School initiative
• $700,000 for the Hawai‘i Promise Scholarship Program
• $15 full-time positions and $1.2 million to support underserved regions and populations at UH Mānoa and the community colleges
Also,
• $150 million in capital improvement projects to improve public school facilities
• $120 million in total CIP for the University of Hawai‘i
The future begins with investing in education and improving school facilities to make a difference for generations of students.

Housing:
We are asking for a cash infusion of more than $100 million. This includes:
• $25 million CIP for the Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund, statewide
• $50 million CIP for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund, statewide
The Department of Hawaiian Homelands is helping in the effort to produce more housing.
• $10 million CIP for repairs and maintenance of existing infrastructure
• $15 million CIP for lot development
“Our efforts are paying off. Since I’ve been in office, 5,300 units have been completed, 40 percent of them affordable. There are another 1,400 under construction and 4,500 units in the planning stages. Let’s build on our momentum,” Ige said.

Homelessness:
• $15 million for Housing First, Rapid Re-Housing, housing subsidies, homeless outreach services, and other homeless initiatives (this includes $5 million for property storage and trash/debris removal)
• $800,000 for homeless outreach and counseling services for chronically homeless persons experiencing severe substance use disorders
To maintain safety in public areas:
• Asking for 8 FTE (full time equivalent) permanent positions and $419,302 for deputy sheriffs positions to support homeless and illegal camping operations
• $300,000 for staff time and equipment to support homelessness policy reinforcement statewide for the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR)
“For the first time in eight years, there are fewer homeless people across the state – a decline of nearly nine percent. We hope the State Legislature continues to support our efforts to put more families in homes and drastically reduce our homeless population,” Ige said.

Sustainable Hawai‘i:
• $5 million for cash infusion for the Agricultural Loan Revolving Fund
• $2.8 million for agricultural infrastructure improvements
• $8.3 million for watershed protection
• $7 million for land acquisition for forest reserve expansion on O‘ahu and Maui
• $8.7 million for state parks infrastructure and improvements
“We are asking for this funding to continue support of the initiatives announced at last year’s IUCN World Conservation Congress – protecting our natural resources, doubling local food production, and growing our economy,” said Ige.
Other highlights:
• $4.5 million for Kupuna Care and Caregivers programs
• $536,819 in operating funds for Maui and Kauai County lifeguard protection at beaches under the jurisdiction of DLNR
• $69 million in revenue bonds for Kona International Airport permanent federal inspection station
• $16.5 million CIP for the Tax System Modernization project
“We see progress on complex issues, and this budget aligns our values and programs with those actions we know will make a difference. My administration remains focused on doing things the right way to achieve the best outcomes for the State of Hawai‘i,” Gov. Ige said.

Alaska Woman Charged for Attempted Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged an Alaska woman in connection with an Attempt Murder 2 investigation.

Crystal Young

On (December 15), officers were responding to a reported traffic casualty with injuries that occurred on the Old Airport Runway involving a vehicle and pedestrian. Information was received that the traffic casualty had started as a domestic dispute between an unidentified male and female. The male was struck by the female who was operating a black sedan.

After striking the male with the vehicle, the female drove to the dead end side of the park and fled on foot into the brush area where she was later located by police.

Police arrested the driver of the vehicle, 30-year-old female, Crystal Young of Anchorage Alaska, who was taken to the Kona cellblock while detectives with the Juvenile Aid Section continued the investigation.

The male, later identified as Emil Dushkin, is the boyfriend of Young, and was taken to Kona Community Hospital and then medevaced Queens Medical Center for treatment of his injuries where he remains in critical condition.

At 6:15 p.m., Saturday, (December 16), police charged Young with Attempted Murder II, Accident Involving Death or Serious Bodily Injury, Abuse of a Family/Household Member and Failure to Give Information or Render Aid. Her bail was set at $281,000. Young remains in the Kona cellblock pending her initial appearance scheduled for this afternoon, (December 18), in Kona District Court.

Anyone who may have information or witnessed this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Brandon Mansur of the Area II Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Brandon.Mansur@hawaiicounty.gov or call Lieutenant Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 326-4646 or Rio.Amon-Wilkins@hawaiicounty.gov.

STUDY: 94% of the Rats in Hilo Are Infected With Rat Lungworm Disease

A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo research group supported by Hawai‘i Island legislators is urging more control measures be taken to lower the risks of the spread of rat lungworm (RLW) disease.

UH Hilo Rat Lungworm Lab

Findings of a study headed by the Rat Lungworm Working Group at the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) are described in a paper entitled “High prevalence of Angiostrongylus cantonensis (rat lungworm) on eastern Hawai‘i Island: a closer look at life cycle traits and patterns of infection in wild rats” published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Our study showed almost 94 percent of the rats in the Hilo area are infected with RLW,” said Susan Jarvi, director of the working group who has been researching the progress of the disease for more than six years.

More than 30 other countries report data on RLW, including Australia, Brazil, Thailand and China. Jarvi suggests that due to the lack of diagnostic tools and difficulty in diagnosis, the disease may be underreported. Her group has been adding to the scientific evidence that gives legislators in Hawai‘i the proof they need to become more involved.

“Hawai‘i is able to take the lead globally on assessing the effects of this debilitating disease thanks to this scientific evidence from UH Hilo,” said Senator Kai Kahele, who represents Hawai‘i Senate District 1, which includes Hilo. “The first step in conquering a threat is in knowing the enemy. We can get ahead of the terrifying risks, but these results certainly show the urgency for more research.”

RLW disease is a parasitic infection that reproduces in rats and is transferred to slugs and snails, which can, if ingested intentionally or not, infect people. While symptoms can be mild and flu-like, there have been cases that have resulted in long-term disability and even death.

“UH Hilo continues to support Dr. Jarvi’s efforts to safeguard public health through her research on the system of this disease,” noted UH Hilo Interim Chancellor Marcia Sakai. “We are exploring alternatives with state agencies that will continue to fund this important research, which reflects our commitment to help maintain the health of the community.”

Researchers in this study examined a total of 545 wild rats from multiple sites in the South Hilo District of east Hawai‘i Island. Through evaluation of multiple stages and locations of development of the infection with A. cantonensis, they were able to determine prevalence, and examine patterns of infection. The purpose was to determine how these data can be used to improve risk assessment and guide research development to better prevent and control human infection.

“Defeating this threat to our islands is essential to perpetuating our way of life,” said Representative Chris Todd, who represents Hilo in the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives. “I believe in the research being done at UH Hilo; their work will help us ensure a healthy future for our keiki – we, as a legislature, need to do more to support their mission.”

DKICP and the Hawai‘i Community Foundation – Medical Research supported research in this study. Authors were from DKICP: Jarvi, Stefano Quarta, Steven Jacquier, Kathleen Howe, Deniz Bicakci, Crystal Dasalla, Noelle Lovesy, Kirsten Snook and Robert McHugh; and Chris N. Niebuhr from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s National Wildlife Research Center, Hawai‘i Field Station in Hilo.

“The clear and present danger of this difficult-to-eradicate disease warrants increased measures to control its spread in both snails, slugs and rodents,” Jarvi said. “Only by deliberate management can we hope to protect human and animal populations.”

DOH Launches First Statewide Media Campaign on Rat Lungworm Disease Prevention

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recently launched a statewide broadcast media campaign to educate residents and visitors about rat lungworm disease, a potentially devastating illness that can have debilitating effects on an infected person’s brain and spinal cord. Through a partnership with the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, the campaign aims to increase awareness and prevention of rat lungworm disease through a series of television and radio public education announcements, which are now on air.

Earlier this year, the 2017 Hawaii State Legislature appropriated one million dollars to DOH over the next two years to deliver enhanced response and outreach activities to control the spread of rat lungworm disease. As part of this effort, public education announcements are now running on 40 radio stations and seven television stations to build awareness and inform the public-atlarge about rat lungworm disease and how to prevent it.

“The risk of rat lungworm disease is present on all islands and there are basic steps we can take each day to reduce this risk and help prevent infection,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of environmental health. “Knowledge is the best defense we can provide people with to collectively protect our communities from rat lungworm disease in Hawaii.”

Additionally, visitors to local movie theatres on Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu can expect to see rat lungworm disease prevention announcements prior to movie showings in December and January. Shopping centers and malls across the state have also posted large-scale announcements reminding patrons to always wash produce before eating and to control rat, slug, and snail populations around their homes and gardens.

Community education was highlighted as a high priority by the Governor’s Rat Lungworm Disease Task Force, a group of local experts from medical, scientific, environmental, and public health fields gathered to actively work on developing guidelines for schools, farms, food
establishments, physicians and other groups on best practices to prevent, control, and manage rat lungworm disease.

Public education has been a collaborative multi-agency effort, involving many partners such as the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and John A. Burns School of Medicine, for example. Several informative pieces were created and have been used during informational meetings hosted in all counties by the department throughout the year as well as shared with partners for further distribution into the community.

To date, in 2017, Hawaii has experienced 18 confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease. The most recent case was a Hawaii Island adult resident in Hilo. It is believed the individual accidently ingested an infected slug while drinking from a garden watering hose in late November. The public is urged to take the following precautions to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • Wash all produce thoroughly under clean and potable running water before eating, especially when eating raw fruits and vegetables;
  • Cook food completely by boiling for 3-5 minutes or heating to 165°F for 15 seconds;
  • Store food and drinks in sealed containers, especially when outdoors;
  • Control and eliminate rats, slugs and snails around the home and garden;
  • Inspect water catchment tanks regularly and always keep them covered;
  • Watch children carefully while playing on the ground and keep them away from areas with slugs and snails;
  • Do not drink from the garden watering hose since slugs and snails that may be inside could be dislodged and swallowed.

DOH will continue its outreach and education efforts centered on rat lungworm disease prevention, especially with the rainy season well upon the state. For more information about rat lungworm disease and DOH’s education campaign, visit: http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/.

Spot the Space Station Tonight

Hawai‘i residents can spot the International Space Station (ISS) tonight, depending on clouds.

Photo via Ignazio Magnani in the Space Station.

It will be visible beginning tonight, Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, at 6:25p.m.

ISS will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 87 degrees.

The space station will appear 11 degrees above the northwest part of the sky and disappear 11 degrees above the southeast part of the sky.

View a livestream from the space station here.