Victims Seek Two Investigations – Long Time Hawaii Predator Abused Several Foster Kids

SNAP: “Catholic Charities and state agency should take action”, They gave him “unfettered access to vulnerable boys,” group says.  One key individual won promotions & is now a supervisor at state bureaucracy

A support group for sex abuse victims is urging Catholic Charities and Hawaii state officials and to investigate how a predator was able to foster children.

VICE News today presents Love Serve Surrender. In the documentary, VICE News investigates alleged pedophile Jay Ram, who for decades has managed to foster, adopt, and care for dozens of boys referred by charities and child welfare agencies, despite repeated warning signs that he was a sexual predator.

VICE News presents Love Serve Surrender. In the documentary, VICE News investigates alleged pedophile Jay Ram, who for decades has managed to foster, adopt, and care for dozens of boys referred by charities and child welfare agencies, despite repeated warning signs that he was a sexual predator.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are urging the two organizations to answer questions about how so many boys were placed in the care of Jay Ram. And investigate Roselyn Viernes, who is the head of East Hawaii Child Welfare Services in Hilo, and was the social worker responsible for placing the children in foster homes.

Ram, who is also known as Gary Winnick, is accused of sexually abusing boys that he fostered and adopted in California and Hawaii. He is believed to be the Tampa Florida area. A recent documentary chronicles Ram’s abuse. 

Ram is accused of molesting the boys and exploiting them and forcing them to do hard physical labor. The victims say that Ram threatened them, deprived them of food and refused to let them to engage in regular social activities with their peers out of fear that the boys would report to authorities. Although Ram has been investigated by the police in the past, the victims say that they were threatened with violence and more abuse to keep them quiet. The boys were abused between the ages of 8 and 17 during the mid-to-late 1980s and early 1990s.

SNAP is writing to the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities urging officials to do a complete, independent investigation of all placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator.

“It is time for action. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints were made known,” said Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP volunteer Western Regional Director.  “Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Catholic Charities and CWS refused to listen to children who were being abused? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.”

The letters from SNAP, sent today by fax and email, are pasted below.

Letter 1:

Patricia McManaman
Director
State of Hawaii Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 339, Honolulu, HI 96809-0339
Fax 808-586-4890
dhs@dhs.hawaii.gov

East Hawaii Child Welfare Services
75 Aupuni Street Hilo, HI 96720
Fax: (808) 933-0693

Dear Ms. McManaman

We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been sexually abused in religious and institutional settings.

We were disturbed and dismayed by the recent news documentary LOVE SERVE SURRENDER (http://youtu.be/v2sFheAc1rQ), which tells the story of Hilo-area rancher Jay Ram, who fostered, adopted, and sexually abused more than two dozen boys on the Big Island.

What is even more upsetting is to learn that high-ranking state social worker Roselyn Viernes has had knowledge of suspicions and complaints against Ram for decades. She is currently working in your East Hawai’i Central offices. According to the news story and corresponding documents, there are records of at least two allegations of abuse against Ram in 1989. Despite this, Viernes continued to place boys in his care. The documents can be viewed here: https://news.vice.com/articles/an-alleged-pedophiles-perfect-scam?trk_source=homepage-feature

It is time for action. State social workers who ignore abuse complaints and put more children as risk must be held accountable. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints crossed Viernes’ desk. Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Ms. Viernes refused to do the right thing? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.

We ask that you do the following:

–Do a complete investigation of all of Ms. Viernes’ placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator,
–Immediately remove Viernes from her position until the investigation is complete,
–Reach out to all boys placed in Ram’s care and let them know they have criminal and civil rights and that help is available.

Your offices may even house the evidence necessary to help criminally prosecute Jay and help his victims get the accountability they deserve.

Hawaii’s most vulnerable kids deserve far better than being placed in foster homes with sex predators.

Mahalo,

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director (949) 322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

Letter 2:

Jerry Rauckhorst
President & Chief Executive Officer
Catholic Charities Hawai‘i
Clarence T. C. Ching Campus
1822 Ke‘eaumoku Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
info@catholiccharitieshawaii.org
jrauckhorst@catholiccharitieshawaii.org
(808) 599-8761 Fax

Catholic Charities
Hilo Office
62 Kinoole Street
Hilo, HI 96720
Fax: (808) 961-7059

Dear Mr. Rauckhorst:

We are members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org), the nation’s largest support group for men and women who have been sexually abused in religious and institutional settings.

We were disturbed and dismayed by the recent news documentary LOVE SERVE SURRENDER (http://youtu.be/v2sFheAc1rQ), which tells the story of Hilo-area rancher Jay Ram, who fostered and adopted—and then sexually abused—more than two dozen boys on the Big Island.

What is even more upsetting is to learn that Catholic Charities had a role in this abuse. According to the news story and corresponding documents, there are records of at least two allegations of abuse against Ram in 1989. Despite this, Catholic Charities, in partnership with Child Welfare Services, placed boys in Ram’s care and allowed other boys to remain with Ram. The documents can be viewed here: https://news.vice.com/articles/an-alleged-pedophiles-perfect-scam?trk_source=homepage-feature

It is time for action. More than a dozen boys lived with Jay after the first abuse complaints were made known. Most—if not all—of the boys were molested. How many other children were abused because Catholic Charities and CWS refused to listen to children who were being abused? Subsequent tragedies involving Jay and the boys could have been avoided completely.

We ask that you do the following:

–Do a complete investigation of all of Catholic Charities’ placements and the approval processes that allowed dozens of boys to be placed with a predator,
–Reach out to all boys placed in Ram’s care and let them know they have criminal and civil rights and that help is available.

Your offices may even house the evidence necessary to help criminally prosecute Jay and help his victims get the accountability they deserve.

Hawaii’s most vulnerable kids deserve far better than being placed in foster homes with sex predators.

Mahalo,

 

Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director (949) 322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com
Barb Dorris of St. Louis, MO, SNAP Outreach Director, (314) 503-0003, snapdorris@gmail.com

Taser Not Cause of Death in Kona Man’s Death

The final results of an autopsy conducted Wednesday (February 5) on the body of 39-year-old Randall Hatori of Kailua-Kona concluded that the cause of death was cardio-respiratory arrest due to the combined effects of high levels of methamphetamine in his blood, an enlarged heart and a physical struggle.

HPDBadgeAccording to Dr. Lindsey Harle, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, the stress of these three factors likely caused a cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm, that led to his death.

Dr. Harle said the autopsy showed minor injuries on the body of Hatori and that, while an electronic control device was used during the confrontation, it did not play a role in his death.

At 12:30 a.m. on 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.

Big Island Police Participating in National “Take-Back Initiative”

The Hawaiʻi Police Department is encouraging the public to participate in a nationwide prescription drug take-back initiative being sponsored in Hawaiʻi by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the state Department of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Safety.
take backOn Saturday, April 26, members of the public may turn in unused, unneeded or expired prescription medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following collection sites for safe, anonymous disposal:

Komohana Medical Center Complex (upper parking lot)
670 Komohana Street
Hilo

Kona police station parking lot
74-611 Hale Makaʻi Place
Kailua-Kona

Tablets, capsules and all other solid dosage forms will be accepted. Intravenous solutions, injectables and syringes will not be accepted.

Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

Having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisoning. Proper disposal also helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

For more information about the drug take-back program, visit www.dea.gov.

Clothesline Project Comes to the Big Island

The Clothesline Project was created to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women.  In an effort to express themselves, women who were affected by violence were asked to decorate t-shirts that would later be hung on a line for public display.

Clothesline ProjectThe intent was to honor survivors while promoting awareness of these crimes.  In recognition of Victims’ Rights Week an annual commemoration to promote victims’ rights and service available to victims, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney will be creating a clothesline project to not only bring awareness for violence against women, but awareness of victims of all crime in our community. Our clothesline will be displayed from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the following times and locations:

  • Wednesday, April 9th – UH Hilo, The NEW Student Services Center
  • Thursday, April 10th – Aupuni Center, Hilo
  • Friday, April 11th – West Hawai’i Civic Center, Kailua-Kona

Supplies will be available for anyone who wishes to make a t-shirt to display on the line.  Anyone who has been affected by crime in our community whether male or female is invited. In addition, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney will display informational material regarding services for crime victims.  For more  information regarding this event, please free to contact the Victim Assistance Unit at (808) 934-3306.

Got Guac?

The free, eighth annual Hawai‘i Avocado Festival is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 5 on the Bayfront lawn of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa.

Got Guac?

Got Guac? Photo by Sonia Martinez

Catering to families, the event has something for everyone: non-stop entertainment, culinary and agricultural activities, plus keiki fun.

Enjoy a farmer’s market; arts and crafts booths and tasty-avocado themed cuisine prepared by food vendors and Sheraton’s culinary team. This year’s festival art is by Kona artist Jan Salerno and available on posters and organic cotton t-shirts.

An updated lineup for the entertainment stage is opening pule by Kumu Danny Akaka and hula at 10 a.m., Aunt Irma’s Kahikina Nahe Nahe at 11 a.m., Bolo at noon, Manuel and Bernice at 1 p.m. and eco-chic vegan fashion show by Gentle Aloha Feast at 2 p.m. Students of the youth mentoring group Incense will model designs by Huluwuwu, Lulie’s and Nohea Hawaii to the music of hip hop artist Pana. Live entertainment continues until 5 p.m.

Learn how to graft avocados at 11 a.m. and hear a panel discussion on “Keeping the Culture in Agriculture” at noon. Get the scoop all day on different avocado varieties at an informative display by the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers.

A 2-4 p.m. composting workshop focuses on basic backyard techniques and working with worms. Those who finish the workshop will get a free composting bin.

The avocado recipe contest offers competition in appetizers, entrees, desserts and vegan. Judging is 10 a.m. with public tasting at noon and announcement of winners at 1 p.m. First place winners will receive prizes from Island Naturals and Kealakekua Ranch Center. Entry form, rules and instructions can be found at www.avocadofestival.org or phone 963-6860.

Hands-on fun for families includes games for keiki, free avocado and vegan products sampling and visits with Recycle Hawai’i’s live mascot, Recycle Dog. In addition, 200 healthy, raw treats will be served to attending keiki as part of the local Feed the Children project. Keiki and adults can also paint silk banners “to banish childhood hunger.”

For festival updates, visit Big Island Avocado Festivals on Facebook, contact Randyl Rupar at 936-5233 or visit www.avocadofestival.org.

Hawaii Avocado and Mango Festivals are sponsored by Sanctuary of Mana Kea Gardens, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers-West Hawaii and Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Mayor Kenoi to Proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

Join Mayor Kenoi as he proclaims April as Child Abuse Prevention Month on the Big Island:
Child Abuse Month

Coast Guard Evacuates Four From Molokini Crater After Jellyfish Attacks

The Coast Guard medically evacuated four people after they sustained jellyfish stings while snorkeling near Molokini Crater, Maui, Tuesday.

Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Maui received a call from a charter vessel stating one adult and three children had been stung by jellyfish while they were snorkeling near Molokini Crater.

A 25-foot Response Boat - Small boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Maui launched to the scene.

The crewmembers arrived on scene at 10:10 a.m. and transferred the four injured people aboard the RB-S.

They were transported to the Kihei Boat Ramp in Kihei where emergency medical services were waiting.

The adult was in shock and the three children sustained minor injuries.

60 Seniors Selected for Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood Project

Phase 1 of the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project will be dedicated on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 11:00 am.
Mohouli
The sixty-unit senior housing project developed by the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC) represents the initial phase of an eventual 15.9-acre senior complex that will include the relocation of the Hilo Adult Day Center and up to an additional 90 senior residential housing units.

A site blessing for the planned Hilo Adult Day Center building follows the dedication.

“The Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation wishes to acknowledge the assistance that we have received for this project from all levels of Federal, State and County governments,” said HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato.  “Their collective willingness to partner with us is allowing 60 local senior families the ability to move into affordable housing near their families.
We are now moving forward to continue the next phase of the development of the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project with a new home for the Hilo Adult Day Center to replace their current facility at the old Hilo Memorial Hospital on Rainbow Drive.”

Hilo Friendly Design
The Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project has been designed with Hilo’s rainy climate in mind.  All of the units have cross ventilation provided by doors and windows on the front and back of the units and covered walkways connecting all units to the rest of the complex, including the community center which has a laundry, mailboxes and a large activity room.  All units are one-bedroom, one-bath, a full kitchen and are approximately 590 square feet in size.

60 Seniors Selected Through Lottery Process
The first 60 tenants have been selected through a lottery process run by the County of Hawaii’s Office of Housing and Community Development who volunteered to be the initial point of contact for all units whether the units will receive rental assistance through the County’s Section 8 program or HUD’s Section 202 program. The Office of Housing and Community Development decided that being the initial point of contact for both programs would be less confusing for the senior applicants.

The $19.5 million senior housing complex is being funded by an $8.3 million capital advance from the HUD Section 202 program and $11.25 million in equity derived from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The $11.25 million in equity is being provided by American Savings Bank, Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank and Island Insurance Company of Hawaii.  Interim construction financing was also provided by the an $8.6 million loan from the State of Hawaii Rental Housing Trust Fund and a $4.0 million loan from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation.

Hilo Adult Day Center Site Blessing
The Hilo Adult Day Center is currently operating in the old Hilo Hospital on Rainbow Drive.  This present structure, built in 1924, is inadequate to serve the future needs for the growing Day Center over the next 60-70 years.

The Hilo Adult Day Center Board of Directors have long sought an alternative location and are glad that the project has picked up momentum.  Plans for the new facility are being drawn, paid for by a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the County of Hawaii.  Additional funding has been secured during the past two legislative sessions in totaling $1.385 million.

Governor Neil Abercrombie recently announced the release of $385,000 which will go toward the design and construction of the requisite infrastructure to support the Hilo Adult Day Center.  The fundraising goal of $7.5 million has been aided by a $500,000 CDBG grant being proposed this year.  It is anticipated that future funding from the State of Hawaii, private trusts and foundations and community contributions will complete the funding for this needed project.

The Mohouli project represents the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation’s seventh senior housing complex on the island.  Citing a clear need for such housing, HICDC is planning to pursue funding to develop additional senior housing units at the Mohouli complex as well as projects in Kona.

The 15.9-acre site fronting Komohana Street was conveyed by the State of Hawaii through Executive Order to the County of Hawaii in 2008 for the purpose of developing a senior housing complex and related uses.  The County of Hawaii in turn leased the site to HICDC in 2009 and HICDC secured the necessary funding commitments in 2011.  Site grading commenced in early 2012 followed by the building construction.  The project was granted its Certificates of Occupancy in December 2013.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $100,000 for Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council Offices in Naalehu and Honokaa

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of two grants totaling $100,000 to Hilo-based nonprofit Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council (HCEOC) for its Naalehu and Honokaa offices.

HCEOC Naalehu Office

HCEOC Naalehu Office

The Governor approved the allotment of funds in the amount of $50,000 each for the Naalehu and Honokaa offices for planning, design and construction for emergency repairs and access improvements, as identified by members of the state Legislature.

“This money will be used to improve accessibility for our kupuna and the disabled, particularly those living in remote communities,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “These funds represent an investment in community and nonprofit efforts that will have significant impacts in the lives of local individuals and families they serve.”

HCEOC Honokaa Office

HCEOC Honokaa Office

Repair of HCEOC satellite offices will facilitate outreach and services (transportation, energy and education programs) to disadvantaged residents dispersed in rural communities on Hawaii Island. A popular program is the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which subsidizes electricity or gas bills of qualified disadvantaged households. Each June, HCEOC provides outreach for the energy assistance program administered by the state Department of Human Services and local utility companies.

Wordless Wednesday – Native Hawaiian Princess Research/Development Area

Native Hawaiian

Healthy Schools Day at Capital Engages Policymakers in Hands-On Student Wellness Activities

As part of Education Week, the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DOE) will conduct interactive demonstrations for legislators at this year’s Healthy Schools Day on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in the Capitol Rotunda from 9 to 11 a.m.

capitalPolicymakers will meet student gardeners, experience a fitness assessment that DOE students receive in PE class, and compete in a fitness relay race. Students in grades K-12 will assist and cheer on legislators. Demonstrations will showcase policies and programs in Hawaii schools that support healthy students, including school gardening and promising practices for health and physical education (PE).

“Our successful DOH-DOE partnership has led to exceptional policies and programs for Hawaii public schools,” said Health Director Dr. Linda Rosen. “We want our senators and representatives to know about these initiatives so that we can continue to provide a healthy environment for our keiki and expand offerings statewide.”

The event will also celebrate DOE schools receiving the 2014 Excellence in Wellness Awards.

The awards are presented annually to schools that have reached high levels of achievement on the DOE Wellness Guidelines, a set of standards for schools that includes benchmarks for foods and beverages offered to students, health education, physical education, and other activities that support a healthy school environment. The Excellence in Wellness Awards are given to schools that score 90 percent or above on the state’s annual Safety and Wellness Survey. A total of 55 schools are receiving awards in 2014, up from 50 schools last year.

“We recognize the accomplishments of our school administrators who emphasize health and wellness,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We commend them for promoting student health as it contributes to enhanced academic achievement and better learning.”

Hawaii public schools have direct contact with more than 80 percent of the state’s children ages five to seventeen. School settings are an ideal location to nourish children’s minds and bodies when they align classroom instruction with foods and beverages sold and offered on campus and support regular physical activity.

For more information about wellness in schools, please visit: http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/BeyondTheClassroom/HealthAndNutrition/WellnessGuidelines/Pages/home.aspx or http://health.hawaii.gov/school-health/

 

March of Dimes Awards Grant to North Hawaii Community Hospital

The March of Dimes Hawaii Chapter has awarded a grant to the Waimea Women’s Center at North Hawaii Community Hospital. This grant will enhance the “CenteringPregnancy” group model of prenatal care. CenteringPregnancy® empowers women to make healthy life choices and has been found to increase babies birth weights and gestational age, which improves pregnancy outcomes.

NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center has been awarded a grant from March of Dime Hawaii to enhance their CenteringPregnancy® group model of prenatal care.

NHCH’s Waimea Women’s Center has been awarded a grant from March of Dime Hawaii to enhance their CenteringPregnancy® group model of prenatal care.

This grant is one of many that the March of Dimes awards in pursuit of its mission to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.

“We will use the March of Dimes grant to meet our objective of providing mothers and babies with the “CenteringPregnancy” group prenatal care model,” said Annette Manant, Certified Nurse Midwife at Waimea Women’s Center. “We are grateful to those volunteers who support the March of Dimes by participation in events like March for Babies and who donate in other ways. That participation and those donations make this grant possible,” said Pat Hopkins, Certified Nurse Midwife at Waimea Women’s Center.

Collaboration Between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Wilcox Hospital Formed to Help Combat Infectious Diseases on Kaua`i

A collaboration between the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Wilcox Hospital has formed Hawai’i’s first interdisciplinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Program (ASP) to help combat infectious diseases on Kaua`i.

UH Hilo MonikerASPs are programs designed to improve the utilization of appropriate antibiotics with the goals of improving patient outcomes and lowering healthcare associated costs, as well as slowing the development of antimicrobial resistance.

“The management of infectious diseases is a constant arms race, and, as medication experts, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to help drive ASPs,” said Roy Goo, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, who is based on Kaua`i. “As new antimicrobial agents are developed, bacterial, viral and fungal organisms evolve with new resistance mechanisms that confer immunity to even our best medications. Even with proper medication, it is estimated that 50 percent of antibiotics are used inappropriately.

“The practice of infectious diseases is the art of using only what is necessary to cure the infection and nothing more,” added Goo. “One of the basic principles of infectious diseases is the more antimicrobial agents we use, the faster resistance develops.” He points out that in recent years multiple strains of bacteria have arisen that are resistant to all currently available antibiotics.

In Hawaiʻi, Goo shows how the College of Pharmacy has played an integral role in the development of these programs across the State. With support from Wilcox Hospital’s inpatient pharmacy department and the hospital’s infectious disease physician Dr. Jimmy Yoon, students screen for patients who are on high-cost or high-risk antimicrobials. They then assess the appropriateness of the antimicrobial regimen for each patient and present their recommendations to the entire infectious disease team, who makes changes to optimize therapy.

“The Center for Disease Control strongly recommends that hospitals perform some form of antimicrobial stewardship, and it is likely that it will become mandated by the Center for Medicare/ Medicaid Services (CMS) in a couple of years,” Yoon said. “At Wilcox Memorial Hospital, we like to be ahead of the curve. Right now we are lucky that we have very few resistant bacteria, and we want to keep it that way. There is a clear correlation between bacterial resistance and increased morbidity and mortality as well as healthcare costs.”

Recognizing the importance of training pharmacists to fill this growing need, Yoon often spends time with students and tests them on their drug knowledge. Students consult with members of Wilcox Memorial Hospital’s Radiology staff, who also volunteer their time to go over chest X-rays and other imaging studies to point out abnormalities that serve as possible indications of infection.

“The drug pipeline for antimicrobial agents is dry so we need to save the agents that we have,” Yoon said. “My anticipation is that for pharmacists this is going to be a huge area for growth.”

This positive experience has led to other collaborative programs at Straub Hospital and Pali Momi Medical Center (PMMC) on O`ahu. Pharmacist Melissa Yoneda, a DKICP alumni from the Class of 2013, is currently helping to establish a pharmacy-driven ASP at PMMC in collaboration with the PMMC pharmacy, nursing and physician staff.

The release of an ASP module and guidance statement from the CDC indicates that ASPs will likely become a requirement across the United States. Certain states such as California have already made it mandatory that hospitals that enjoy Medicare reimbursement have an established ASP in place.

Kirkland Signature Sliced Fruit Recalled from Costco for Potential Salmonella

Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. of Albany, OR has voluntarily recalled 59,780 cases of Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit, produced exclusively for Costco Wholesale Stores. In cooperation with Costco, the company issued the recall after determining the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

kirkland-sliced-fruit-406Precautionary recall measures began on Saturday, March 8, 2014. Consumers who may have purchased the product were contacted by phone and US. Mail, and a letter regarding the voluntary recall was posted on the Costco website. Furthermore, the affected product was removed from Costco floors.

The company says that any Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit that is currently available for purchase has been tested and is safe for consumption. No other products made by Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. are affected.

Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit is sold in a red and white case containing 20 pouches of freeze-dried snacks. Consumers who have purchased Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit with the following “Best Before Dates,” listed on the upper left corner of the front panel of the case, are urged to return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Best Before Date: FEB 14 2015 – MAR 11 2015 (which reads FEB142015 – MAR112015)

No illnesses have been reported, but due to the time required to trace an illness back to a specific food product, it is impossible to say if any illnesses have occurred.

Cases of the potentially contaminated Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit were distributed to Costco Wholesale stores in the following locations: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.

Oregon Freeze Dry, Inc. is issuing the recall as a proactive safety precaution. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

5th Anniversary Celebration of the Puna Community Medical Center

Come to the 5th Anniversary Celebration of the Puna Community Medical Center on Saturday, March 29th at 4:30 PM:
PCMC Party

Waitlist Patients Burden Hawaii Hospitals

Hawaii’s waitlisted patients—that is, those remaining in a hospital after the need for acute care ceases—account for an annual loss of $62.7 million, according to discharge data analyzed by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation (HHIC), the state’s premier healthcare data collector and analyzer.

Well waiting rooms have certainly gotten better since my grandfather was a doctor in the South Pacific. (Click picture for story on that)

Well waiting rooms have certainly gotten better since my grandfather was a doctor in the South Pacific. (Click picture for story on that)

Waitlist patients can be characterized as needing treatment, but not at the severity that requires inpatient acute care.  They continue to stay in a hospital largely because there is no available funding for community placement options that provide the necessary treatments.

The analysis covers a period from 2006 through 2011 and reveals a trend: waitlists were a continuing problem and there was a lack of community resources to address this, at least during the period.

Key barriers to community placement of waitlisted patients include insufficient higher staffing mix in nursing homes and other placement alternatives to meet the complex needs of these individuals; 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 the mentally ill.

In 2011, the 7,055 patients who were discharged after being waitlisted represented an 11 percent increase from 2006. That year, hospitals reported an annual loss of $55.4 million or $8,749 per waitlisted patient.  Over the succeeding five years, the average annual loss has been $64.6 million, with the largest loss, $72.7 million, reported in 2008.

Statewide, HHIC found that between seven and eight percent of those admitted to hospitals were waitlisted for discharge, with the average patient’s age being 70 years.  Government payers represented four of every five waitlisted patients (5,777), with Medicare the primary payer for two in every three (4,619).  In 2011, government-funded waitlisted patients accounted for $51.4 million or 82 percent of the annual loss.

In 2012, the Governor’s Office, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii and the State Department of Human Services collaborated on legislation, which passed, to address uncompensated care costs of Hawaii’s hospitals and nursing facilities; it was extended in 2013, but a reimbursement gap continues.  Both the hospital and nursing facility sustainability initiatives utilize a federal matching fee program which recognizes revenues lost through Medicaid services.

“What we found is that ultimately, hospitals bear the cost of waitlisted patients,” said Peter Sybinsky, Ph.D., president and CEO of HHIC.  “Until more funded community-based treatment alternatives are available, the data indicates we will continue to see unnecessary and inefficient use of Hawaii’s most expensive healthcare resources.”

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

Mahalo to the Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Laupahoehoe Public Charter School

Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) and Laupahoehoe Public Charter School’s sixth graders teamed up to spruce up Hilo’s bayfront on Friday.

bags full of trash, weighing in at around 55 pounds, were removed from Hilo’s bayfront Friday morning by 6th grade students from LPCS at a beach clean up hosted by a local non-profit, Hawaii Wildlife Fund"

Bags full of trash, weighing in at around 55 pounds, were removed from Hilo’s bayfront Friday morning by 6th grade students from LPCS at a beach clean up hosted by a local non-profit, Hawaii Wildlife Fund”

This cleanup was in preparation for Sunday’s Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa event. In only one hour, 10 students and 5 adults managed to remove 1,082 pieces of trash from the bayfront – approximately 55 lbs in 2 bags. The crew mostly picked up land-based trash including lots of cigarette butts along with some more interesting finds like a cow bell, a shaving razor, and several small bundles of derelict fishing nets.

A 6th grader, from Laupahoehoe Public Charter SChool (LPCS) removes a large tire from Hilo’s bayfront on Friday, March 7 during a beach clean up with Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.

A 6th grader, from Laupahoehoe Public Charter SChool (LPCS) removes a large tire from Hilo’s bayfront on Friday, March 7 during a beach clean up with Hawai’i Wildlife Fund.

HWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Hawaii’s native flora and fauna

To learn more about regular beach cleanup opportunities on Hawai‘i and Maui Islands, please contact HWF at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or see our website at www.wildhawaii.org.

 

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Click to enlarge

UH Hilo HOSA Students Headed to Nationals

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo students recently competed in the 9th annual Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) Statewide competition on O`ahu and received several honors that qualified them for the national competition in Orlando, Florida, June 25-28, 2014.

UH Hilo Moniker

The Public Service Announcement Team, categorized as a Teamwork Event, took first place with their 30-second PSA on “Educating the Community about Child Hunger.” The topic was to promote a healthcare service organization and bring awareness to a healthcare situation. Team members, all freshmen, include Lark Jason Canico (team captain), Ridge Cabacang, Sheldon Cabudol, and Guinevere Davenport. Each member gave an oral presentation in addition to displaying the PSA.

Kimberly Cabreros, a sophomore, took first place in Pharmacology. Categorized as a “Knowledge Test,” the test was related to a specific career or specialty area from within the healthcare community that measured proficiency at the recall, application, and analysis levels.

Junior Mandee Miyake took third overall in Prepared Speaking, which was categorized as a Leadership Event. She wrote a paper and presented a speech on “The Future Starts Now.”

The UH Hilo team also received an award for having the highest increase in membership in the Post Secondary Chapter for 2013-2014.

Dr. Cecilia Mukai, UH Hilo HOSA faculty adviser, shared, “By competing in these events detailing healthcare provider skills, students learn invaluable lessons to last them a lifetime. We are all very proud of these students’ efforts and accomplishments.”

Hawaiʻi HOSA provides opportunities for secondary and postsecondary students to develop character and apply leadership skills within the area of the healthcare industry. It is one of the five Career and Technical Student Organizations in Hawaiʻi. UH Hilo HOSA is a Registered Independent Student Organization (RISO).

National Pharmacy Organization Awards UH Hilo Pharmacy Dean Top Research Honor

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy has selected John M. Pezzuto, dean of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, to receive their top research award.

Dr. John M. Pezzuto

Dr. John M. Pezzuto

Pezzuto receives the 2014 Volwiler Research Achievement Award for his outstanding research and contributions to the field of natural product drug discovery. The award will be announced in July at the 2014 Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas, and will be published in Academic Pharmacy Now and on the AACP website.

“It is a tremendous honor, and I am very grateful for being recognized by the AACP in this manner,” Pezzuto said. “Over the years I have had the privilege of working with many fine colleagues, students, postdocs and visiting scholars. We continue to hope our hard work will make a difference for future generations.”

As Founding Dean of the UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy created in 2007, Pezzuto leads approximately 100 faculty and staff to educate and train students for careers in pharmacy.

After 35 years in academia, he has amassed more than 500 publications, is the co-inventor of several patents, the editor of four books, a member of more than 10 editorial boards of international journals, and the editor-in-chief of Pharmaceutical Biology. He is widely known for identifying the cancer-prevention aspects of resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes and grape products. Primarily noted for working in the area of natural products, he has been an administrator and researcher in pharmacy and drug discovery.

Pezzuto received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University and Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University). He was the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Cancer Institute and performed two years of postdoctoral work in the Department of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I have been witness to John’s work for many years, and have been impressed with the intensity that he displays when pursuing his research,” said Lucinda Maine, AACP executive vice president and CEO. “His research is world renowned and has the potential to affect the health of millions not only now but in the future.”

The Volwiler Research Achievement Award was established as the research prize in academic pharmacy to honor the late Ernest H. Volwiler, former president and research director of Abbott Laboratories. According to AACP, “the intent of the Award is to recognize annually an individual within the ranks of pharmacy education recognized by his or her peers as one of the leading research workers in a given area of the pharmaceutical and clinical sciences, pharmacy practice and the social and administrative
sciences, and for outstanding contributions to the respective disciplines.”

Pezzuto joins a highly distinguished group of researchers who have received this award since it was introduced in 1977.

County of Hawai‘i Releases Stage 1 Request for Proposals for Waste Reduction Technology

Mayor Billy Kenoi officially launched the drive to develop a clean, modern and efficient waste reduction technology for the County of Hawai‘i with the release of Stage 1 of the county’s request for proposals (RFP) on March 3.

The RFP process will allow the county to select a proven, economically viable and environmentally friendly process for managing solid waste from East Hawai‘i for at least the next 20 to 30 years, Mayor Kenoi said.

Public Landfill

“For the past two decades this county engaged in study after study to determine the best way to cope with the required closure of the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill,” Mayor Kenoi said.  “It is now time to act. We are inviting the best and brightest in the industry to submit their proposals for a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit our community, and allow us to transform our solid waste from a liability into an asset.”

The county will continue its commitment to recycling, including a program to provide mulch made from green waste for agricultural and other uses. In 2013 the county recycled more than 217 tons of materials per day, including metals, glass, plastics and green waste. The waste reduction project will not affect those efforts, Mayor Kenoi said.

The design-build-operate RFP calls for a facility that can accommodate about 300 tons of solid waste per day. The facility will be built near the existing county Sort Station, and will be privately financed. Stage 1 of the RFP will identify the most qualified teams and technologies for the project.

Mayor Kenoi briefed the Hawaii County Council Committee on Environmental Management on the county plan on Feb. 4, and briefed the county Environmental Management Commission on the project and process on Feb. 26.

Communications from potential vendors regarding the project must be directed to county Purchasing Agent Jeffrey Dansdill at jdansdill@hawaiicounty.gov.  Responses to Stage 1 of the RFP are due on April 15.