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Community Talk – “How to Live with a Life-Limiting Illness”

Kupu Care, a Community-Based Palliative Care program offered exclusively in East Hawai‘i by Hospice of Hilo, is inviting the public to join them for their free community talk titled, “How to Live with a Life-Limiting Illness” on Wednesday, July 5, from 9:00am-10:30am at the organization’s Community Building located at 1011 Waiānuenue Avenue, Hilo.

Last month’s presentation on Living with a life-limiting illness.

This month’s presentation explores the medical specialty called palliative care, part of a growing nationwide movement to bring a greater quality of life to those challenged with a serious illness.

“When someone we love is diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, the worst thing we can imagine is that he or she might die,” said presenter Lani Weigert.  “The sobering fact is that there are worse things than having someone you love die, but our tendency as a society is to deny the reality of death.  That unwillingness by mainstream culture to grapple with the fundamental fact of morality keeps us from knowing what to expect and what is possible when the inevitable happens.”

Attendees will learn the natural progression of the disease process and the eight activities for basic physical independence, as well as get the health support they need to prepare for dealing with a life-limiting diagnosis.

“Most people can’t imagine anything worse than having the person you love die,” said Weigert.  “But watching your loved one die badly is even harder, and worse still is realizing later that much of his or her suffering could have been prevented.”

Those interested in attending the talk are asked to RSVP no later than Monday, July 3rd by contacting Lani Weigert at (808) 934-2913 or online at www.kupucare.org (events).

Rat Lungworm Informational Meeting on Lanai

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH), Maui District Health Office, will hold a public informational meeting on rat lungworm disease on Tuesday, July 6, 2017 at the ILWU Hall in Lanai City, Lanai from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The meeting will include an opportunity for the public to ask questions.

A number of public health experts and community partners will be present to share their findings and recommendations on preventing the spread of rat lungworm, including the DOH, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR), the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) and Maui School Garden Network.

Rat lungworm is a rare disease caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis which is found in rats, slugs and snails. The disease affects the brain and spinal cord and occurs when a person ingests raw or undercooked snails or slugs or unwashed raw produce such as leafy greens. To date, DOH has confirmed 15 cases of the illness in Hawaii for 2017, including nine (9) from Hawaii Island, four (4) Maui residents and two (2) Maui visitors.

DOH has launched a number of initiatives to address rat lungworm. Together with partner agencies, DOH has held community meetings on Maui and Molokai to educate the public on rat lungworm and to share best practices on the prevention of this disease, including the proper care and washing of produce, as well as rodent and slug control. DOH food safety inspectors have also worked with permitted food establishments on hygiene and food preparation, and medical advisories were sent to physicians and hospitals to increase awareness of the disease.

DOH is planning future public information efforts to educate residents and visitors about rat lungworm prevention.

For additional information on the disease, go online to https://mauiready.org/ratlungworm/ or http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/. Call the DOH office on Lanai at (808) 565-7114 or on Maui at (808) 984-8201 for more details on the meeting.

15 More Mumps Cases Reported – Total Reported Cases at 119

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed fifteen (15) more cases of Oahu residents with the mumps, raising the total number of cases this year to 119. The new cases involved eight (8) adults and seven (7) children. None of the cases required hospitalization and all are recovering.

DOH is investigating the new cases and expects the mumps virus to continue circulating around Oahu. Mumps is highly-contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing and sharing cups and utensils. Symptoms include swollen or tender salivary glands, fever, tiredness and muscle aches.Those who are sick are strongly encouraged to stay at home to prevent transmitting their infection to others. DOH also recommends persons without documentation of receiving the MMR vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible, while those who have received one dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second dose. Although not ideal, receiving extra doses of vaccine poses no medical problem.

The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccinesimmuni…/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

 

Hawaii Department of Transportation Comments on Earthjustice Lawsuit

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) is tasked with ensuring that the State of Hawaii’s transportation facilities including its airports and harbors are run in a way that protects the safety and well-being of its citizenry. These facilities play a vital role in the life and economy of the State. Currently, 80% of all goods consumed in the State are imported with over 98% of those goods being shipped through Hawaii’s commercial harbors. HDOT also operates the airport system which services more than 34 million total passengers who fly to and from Hawaii each year.

As a trustee of the State’s environmental resources and as required by law, the HDOT also always works to ensure that these facilities are operated in ways that are protective of the Islands’ sensitive resources including threatened and endangered species. To that end, HDOT recently expended hundreds of millions of dollars to install energy efficient lighting improvements at the State airports and commercial harbors to avoid impacts to sensitive species on the Islands as well as millions of dollars to safely translocate the endangered Nene away from airport facilities. HDOT also continues to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other federal agencies to ensure that operation of the facilities minimize environmental impacts and are consistent with state and federal laws.

On June 15, 2017, the HDOT received a notice dated June 15, 2017 from Earthjustice declaring its intent to sue HDOT on behalf of Hui Hoomalu i Ka Aina, the Conservation Council for Hawaii, and the Center for Biological Diversity for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act in connection with the HDOT’s operation of the State’s airport and harbor facilities. While HDOT cannot comment on the specific allegations given the threatened litigation, HDOT has and will continue to operate its facilities in manners which are protective of all sensitive species and are consistent with legal requirements.

EPA Requires County of Hawaii to Close Large Cesspools – Reaches Agreement with Aloha Island Mart

Agency also reaches agreement with Aloha Island Mart in Captain Cook over LCC violation

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the County of Hawaii to close seven large capacity cesspools (LCCs) that serve the Pahala and Naalehu communities. The County will replace the cesspools with wastewater treatment systems approved by the Hawaii Department of Health.

In a separate action, EPA reached an agreement with Aloha Petroleum, Ltd. requiring the company to pay a civil penalty of $57,500 for its operation of an LCC at its Aloha Island Mart convenience store and gas station in Captain Cook on the Big Island. EPA found that Aloha Island Mart operated an illegal LCC until 2014. Aloha Petroleum has since closed the non-compliant cesspool and replaced it with an approved wastewater system.

Click to read the consent agreement

An LCC is a cesspool that serves multiple residential dwellings or a commercial facility with the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. LCCs were banned under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in April 2005.

The agreement with the County of Hawaii requires the closure of two LCCs serving the Pahala community, three LCCs serving the Naalehu community, and two LCCs serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments. Combined, the seven cesspools serve about 280 households.

“EPA and the County of Hawaii are taking important steps to close these banned cesspools and replace them with modern wastewater treatment systems,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These actions will protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal resources, as we seek to modernize Big Island water infrastructure.”

In the Pahala and Naalehu communities, the County has developed closure and replacement plans for the cesspools. Newly-constructed secondary wastewater treatment facilities and updated collection systems will come online in 2021 for Pahala and in 2022 for Naalehu. Cesspools serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments will be closed by September 2018 and replaced with septic systems. The agreement also includes specific reporting requirements and allows for stipulated penalties should the county fail to meet agreed-upon deadlines.

Construction of the new treatment and disposal facilities will be financed in part with federal grants and low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program. Under the agreement, an additional 95 properties in the Pahala and Naalehu communities not currently served by the LCCs will also be connected to the new county sewer systems.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, despite the fact that 95 percent of all drinking water in Hawaii comes from groundwater sources. over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance.

For more information on this specific agreement visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders#hawaii

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large capacity cesspool, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

Lessons From a Tsunami Could Help Protect Seabirds in the Face of Rising Seas

Sudden flooding hit islands of global importance for Pacific birds highlighting threats and opportunities for conservation planning

In a study published Thursday, researchers evaluated the effects of sudden flooding from the Tohoku tsunami on more than 20 bird species nesting on the distant Pacific islands. The results shed light not only on how those birds weathered the dramatic rise in seas from the extreme event, but also how island wildlife may fare with the threat of rising sea levels and increased storm surges.

Young Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) at its nest near the coastline at Midway Atoll, Hawaii

Many seabird species have disappeared from human populated higher islands, and their worldwide distributions are now concentrated on the low-lying islands protected as Wildlife Refuges and Marine National Monuments.

“Much of our Pacific island biodiversity is vulnerable to catastrophic flooding. Many of the bird’s eggs are in low-lying island baskets, so to speak,” said U.S. Geological Survey ecologist, Dr. Michelle Reynolds, lead researcher on the study. “The research here shows that sudden flooding from dramatic events like tsunamis as well as longer-term sea level rise create risks for the birds, but also reveal that there are opportunities to establish breeding colonies at higher elevations. Higher elevation habitat that is free of invasive predators may provide more resilience for island seabirds.”

“Estimates of nest flooding from the tsunami combined with models of sea-level rise flooding and storm wave flooding give us a tool to glimpse into future,” said John Klavitter, co-author of the study and manager with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. “We can better understand where the populations are most vulnerable to flooding, what proportions of the seabird populations are most vulnerable, and where restoration and invasive predator management may achieve the most long-term value.”

At the far northwestern reaches of the Hawaiian Island chain, protected as part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Laysan Island and the three islands of Midway Atoll have a combined area of about 2,300 acres and a mean elevation of less than 11.5 feet. These islands are used by 6 million to 10 million birds including the world’s largest colonies of Black-footed and Laysan albatrosses, and the global populations of endangered Laysan teal.

An aerial photograph of Laysan Island, Hawaii, part of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. USGS photo July 2010

Catastrophic flooding of Pacific islands occurs periodically not only from tsunamis but also from storm surge and rainfall. With rising sea levels, the frequency of flooding events will likely increase. To understand where and which bird populations are most vulnerable to sudden flooding, the spatial extent of flooding from the 2011 Tohoku tsunami was detailed on the islands of Laysan and Midway Atoll. The spatial boundary of flooding on each island was then combined with bird nesting data. Species that nest near the coast, nest simultaneously, or have strong nest site and island fidelity are identified as more sensitive to population declines from island over-wash events.

The scientists estimated the 2011 tsunami flooded 26 to 52 percent of the Black-footed albatross nests concentrated on the coast of islands and that across the four islands more than 275,000 Black-footed and Laysan albatross and Bonin petrel nests were flooded. Populations of endemic land birds, such as the Laysan teal were especially vulnerable to the longer-term habitat changes from catastrophic flooding.

This study and recent research describing potential inundation from sea level rise and storm wave highlight the vulnerability of these low islands to wave over-wash and the opportunity restore species to the higher islands. The researchers hope the information can help natural resource managers make decisions about where restoration and conservation efforts can have the most long-lasting effects.

Map of the 11 March 2011 Tohoku earthquake epicenter in relation to the Northwestern and main Hawaiian Islands

The study “Lessons from the Tohoku tsunami: a model for island avifauna conservation prioritization” was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution by USGS authors Michelle Reynolds and Karen Courtot, Paul Berkowitz of Hawaii Cooperative Study Unit at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and John Klavitter of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hawaii Department of Health Approves Production Centers for Medical Marijuana Licensees on Kauai and Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued Notices to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Manoa Botanicals LLC for their second production center on Oahu and to Green Aloha Ltd. for their first production center on Kauai. The licensees have met all requirements to begin growing marijuana at their approved facilities.

Manoa Botanicals is the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers. Green Aloha Ltd. is the is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.  In May, Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies received approvals for their second production centers on Oahu and Maui respectively. In February, Pono Life Sciences on Maui became the fourth licensee to operate a production center.

“The dispensary licensees have made excellent progress in developing their production sites in compliance with all state laws and regulations to provide a safe product and ensure patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii.”

Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals said, “We’ve put considerable research, time and money into building a growing facility with the most current technology available to ensure consistent high quality products for our patients. Our nursery plants are ready to go, and we can’t wait to see our first harvest this summer.”

Justin Britt, chief executive officer of Green Aloha said, “It took a lot of work to comply with the state laws and regulations to grow cannabis, but it is all worth it because the result is safer, higher quality medicine for Kauai’s patients.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/.

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

VIDEO: Battle Against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Includes Top-Notch Technology

With 75,000 acres of Hawai‘i island ʻōhiʻa forest now showing symptoms of the fungal disease known as Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death, federal and state agencies and non-profit partners are using an array of high technology to detect its spread.

“The battle against the two types of Ceratocystis fungus that causes Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death has always been a hugely collaborative effort,” said Rob Hauff, State Protection Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). “Now,” Hauff explained, “the collaboration between the agencies and organizations engaged in the fight against this devastating disease not only continues, but is expanding, particularly on the detection front.”  Early detection is considered critical in helping to identify Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death’s spread on the Big Island and to other islands and to provide data and scientific information to aide researchers working hard to find a way to stop it.

During a demonstration today, researchers showed off three of the high-tech survey/detection tools currently involved in mapping and on-site testing for the presence of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Carter Atkinson a Research Microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey based at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, developed what the team from the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BISC) fondly calls a “lab in a suitcase.”  Recently the BISC team collected ʻōhiʻa samples from towering trees in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve on the Big Island’s east coast. Prior to the development, earlier this year, of Atkinson’s portable testing laboratory, all samples were sent to the USDA ARS Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo.  Since the cause of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death was first discovered in 2014, Dr. Lisa Keith who runs the main testing lab, has been overwhelmed with samples.  Bill Buckley, the Forest Response Program Coordinator for BISC said, “The lab in a suitcase has been really nice.  We can collect our samples in the field, and nearby under a portable tent the testing equipment is set and ready to go.  Within a few hours we get preliminary results. In the remote location’s we often work in, this is really beneficial. If we get a positive result, we then can go immediately back out and do additional sampling to get a better sense of how widespread the infection is. This greatly speeds up management decisions.”  Positive samples are sent to Dr. Keith’s lab for further testing and verification.

On the same day BISC tested samples in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve, another team of researchers prepares to launch an unmanned aerial system (UAS) off the side of Stainback Road, one of the epicenters of the infection. Dr. Ryan Perroy of the Department of Geography & Environmental Science at UH Hilo and his team are now spending about 25% of their time flying the UAS for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death mapping and detection.

Perroy said the “drone” has been in use in the battle against Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death for about a year and a half.  “It’s very good for monitoring changes in the forest on an individual tree basis, because the resolution of the imagery is so fine that you can see individual leaves and branches,” Perroy explained. That allows researchers not only to see changes over areas already infected by the fungus, but to detect suspected new cases. As valuable as the UAS imagery is, Perroy said it’s very difficult to fly over ʻōhiʻa forests every month and see the rapidity of tree decline. “It’s not the best day when we come back and we see more and more trees down since the last time we flew. Our efforts are one piece of the larger effort to better understand the disease and better protect our forests,” Perroy concluded.

Above, at 8,000 feet, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) is in the process of remapping roughly 650,000 acres of ʻōhiʻa forest on Hawai‘i island. This is the second time this twin-engine aircraft with millions of dollars of highly sophisticated equipment on board has peered into the very structural makeup and chemistry of individual trees to measure forest health.  The first time was in January 2016. This month’s flights will provide additional 3D imaging and data to fuse with ground data and the UAS data to give scientists and resource managers a really clear picture of the scope of spread of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Greg Asner leads the CAO effort. He explained, “Our 3D imaging system means we see the leaves in the forest canopy on individual trees.  We can determine tree heights, the tree’s structure and the chemical make-up.” Utilizing imaging spectrometers, mounted in the rear of the plane, along with laser-based technology, super high resolution GPS, and a high-end, military-grade intertial motion unit (IMU) Asner and his team are about two-thirds finished remapping the Big Island’s ʻōhiʻa forests, in this second round of flight missions.

He added, “Our work provides the whole island view and that interfaces with all the field work and with some of the high-resolution mapping that’s happening locally within some of the canopies.  We give the big picture, landscape scale view, but also with a lot of detail.”

All of the researchers and managers working to combat Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death agree that their collaborative efforts are about the only silver lining to what is a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s most important native tree. Ōhiʻa protect the state’s watersheds by providing a sponge-effect to allow rainwater to slowly seep into underground aquifers.  They also help prevent erosion and the spread of invasive species and they are very culturally significant and prized in lei making.

“I think it’s really encouraging in this daunting threat to our precious native ecosystem, to have a community of natural resource managers and scientists come together to find a solution,” said Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Survey and Resource Forester for DLNR/DOFAW. He added, “I think this experience of having dedicated partners, complete collaboration and the deployment of top-notch technology has greatly improved cross-agency communications and efficiency and we all hope eventually leads to a treatment for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.”

Top-Notch Technology in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death VNR 7-19-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Department of Health – Lead Tests Can Give False Results, Advises Parents About Re-Testing Their Children

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents with children less than 6 years old who had a venous blood lead test drawn before May 17, 2017 consult with their health care provider to determine whether their child should be retested. This advisory does not apply if the child was tested with a finger or heel stick. Additionally, pregnant women and nursing mothers who had a venous blood lead test before May 17, 2017 should consult a health care provider about retesting.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers used by some Hawaii laboratories. Magellan blood lead tests on blood drawn from a vein may provide falsely low results. The warning does not apply to capillary blood test results collected by finger stick or heel stick.When the warning was issued, DOH contacted local independent testing laboratories using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers. The DOH also contacted the chief medical officers of all health care facilities statewide. Working closely with laboratories throughout the state, and as more information became available, it was determined that a substantial number of children’s test results in Hawaii may have been affected. At this time, the exact number of inaccurate blood lead test results received within the state is not known.

“It’s very important to identify children who may have been exposed to lead” said DOH Director, Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The faulty test underestimates low blood lead levels and even low levels of lead exposure may cause adverse health effects such as learning and behavior problems in young children. If your child was tested for lead with blood drawn from a vein from 2014 to May 17, 2017, please contact your health care provider to discuss the need for retesting.”

For further questions on lead exposure contact the Hawaii Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Information on the national safety alert is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/about/blood_lead_test_safety_alert.html

Free Hilo Community Film Screening – “Being Mortal”

Hospice of Hilo, in partnership with Community First, Hilo Medical Center and East Hawaii Independent Physicians Association is holding a free, community screening of the documentary “Being Mortal” on Saturday June 24, at the William Charles Lunalilo Center–Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus. Doors open at 10am, screening begins at 10:30am.  After the screening, audience members can participate in a guided conversation on how to take concrete steps to identify and communicate wishes about end-of-life goals and preferences.

“Being Mortal” delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness. The film investigates the practice of caring for the dying and explores the relationships between patients and their doctors. It follows a surgeon, Dr. Atul Gawande, as he shares stories from the people and families he encounters. When Dr. Gawande’s own father gets cancer, his search for answers about how best to care for the dying becomes a personal quest.

Atul Gawande, MD bestselling author of Being Mortal

The film sheds light on how a medical system focused on a cure often leaves out the sensitive conversations that need to happen so a patient’s true wishes can be known and honored at the end.

Seventy percent of Americans say they would prefer to die at home, but nearly 70 percent die in hospitals and institutions. Ninety percent of Americans know they should have conversations about end-of-life care, yet only 30 percent have done so.

“Being Mortal” underscores the importance of people planning ahead and talking with family members about end-of-life decisions. “Planning is an integral part of everyday existence,” said Community First’s Karen Maedo.  “It is often said that ‘failure to plan is planning to fail’ and who among us plans to fail?  It’s your life; it’s your choice.  Have that meaningful conversation, sharing wishes for your end-of-life.  It is the ultimate act of love and will better enable loved ones to move on without you.”

The free screening is made possible by a grant from The John and Wauna Harman Foundation in partnership with the Hospice Foundation of America.

For more information about the free screening, contact Lisa Kwee at (808) 969-1733 or email lisak@hospiceofhilo.org.

8 More Mumps Cases Reported on Oahu – Number of Cases Now at 104

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases this week of Oahu residents with the mumps, pushing the total number of cases this year to 104.

Three new cases were confirmed on Tuesday, June 13, and involved two (2) adults and one (1) child. None of the cases required hospitalization and all three are recovering. An additional five (5) cases were confirmed today, involving one (1) adult and four (4) children, none of whom required hospitalization.

DOH expects the current mumps outbreak to continue and the investigation of new cases is ongoing. Mumps is highly contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing and sharing cups and utensils. Symptoms include swollen or tender salivary glands, low fever, tiredness and muscle aches. People who think they have mumps should contact their health care provider and remain at home.  The MMR vaccine provides the best protection against the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Kailua Bay Water Quality Returns to Normal Bacteria Levels

This is a Civil Defense Sewage Spill Update Message for Thursday, June 15 at 3:00 pm. The Department of Health has determined that Kailua Bay water quality has returned to normal bacteria levels and Kailua Bay is opened at this time to water activities.

The Department of Environmental Management reports that repairs to the ruptured main at Alii Drive and Palani Road are completed with final pavement work to come at a later date.

This will be the final message for this incident.  Thank you for your patience.  Have a safe day. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Older Women in Hawaii are 57% More Likely to Live in Poverty Than Older Men

A new analysis finds that Social Security benefits are especially crucial for older women in Hawaiʻi, who are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have access to assets or savings in retirement. The report, released by the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a first in examining more closely the economic status of older adults in Hawaiʻi by gender and race/ethnicity.

Just over nine percent (9.1 percent) of older women in Hawaiʻi live in poverty, compared with 5.8 percent of older men. Single older women in Hawaiʻi, however, are three times more likely than married older women to be living in poverty (13.0 percent and 4.1 percent poverty rates, respectively). The majority of older women in Hawaiʻi are single, while the majority of older men are married. There are also differences by race/ethnicity: Rates of pension coverage are highest among older Japanese women and lowest among older Filipinas, and rates of marriage also vary, with Filipinas most likely and Native Hawaiian women least likely to be married.

Dr. Colette Browne

“Many of the economic challenges that older women experience stem from inequities that women face earlier in life, including a persistent wage gap, the high cost of child care and a shortage of affordable housing. This builds up over the course of a lifetime and limits women’s ability to lay the foundation for economic security in retirement, especially for the many older single women living without a spouse,” said Dr. Colette Browne, the Richard S. and T. Rose Takasaki Endowed Professor in Social Policy at the School of Social Work and author of the report’s recommendations.

The paper finds that Social Security is the most common source of income for both older men and women in Hawaiʻi, and is especially crucial for women. In Hawaiʻi, nearly 40 percent (39.4 percent) of older women’s annual income is from Social Security, compared with 29 percent of older men’s. Still, Social Security benefits received by older women in Hawaiʻi total about 80 percent of the amount older men receive ($12,000, compared with $15,158).

Older men have greater access to pensions, retirement savings and asset income than older women. Nearly half (47 percent) of older men receive income from a pension or retirement savings plan, compared with just over a third (35.5 percent) of older women in the state. Even for those with a pension or retirement savings plan, women’s median annual income is about 60 percent of men’s ($12,596 compared with $21,344).

The report concludes with recommendations for Hawaiʻi policymakers to focus on strategies and programs that alleviate age-, gender- and race-based inequalities and poverty across the lifespan.

Strategies to address inequity and support the health, educational and employment aspirations of women of every age in Hawaiʻi, coupled with policies that support women with child and elder caregiving responsibilities, such as paid sick days, paid family leave and an affordable and secure long-term care funding mechanism, would bolster women’s financial security throughout their life course and especially in their later years.

“Today’s younger woman is tomorrow’s older woman, so improving the economic status of older women in Hawaiʻi must start with addressing inequality at school, work and home,” said Browne. “But, we must also pay attention to the needs of older women today, and this means honoring women’s contributions to family and community, protecting Social Security and committing ourselves to funding for health and long-term care if and when disabilities occur.

The findings are presented in a paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work funded the analysis and authored the paper’s recommendations through the school’s Takasaki Endowment.

For more information, visit: https://iwpr.org/publications/economic-security-older-women-men-hawaii/

Queen’s Medical Center and NHCH Create First Telemedicine ICU on the Big Island

The sickest patients at North Hawai’i Community Hospital (NHCH) are now being monitored 24/7 by highly specialized physicians thanks to state-of-the-art integrated technology provided by The Queen’s Health Systems.

The new system allows for real-time videoconferencing, putting the staff at The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu virtually at the bedside of each ICU patient at NHCH. NHCH ICU patient vital signs are continually displayed in the Queen’s ICU on Oahu. The complete patient chart is visible, exams can be done virtually with advanced videoconferencing located in each patient room, and heart and lung sounds can be heard by the Oahu team thanks to a virtually connected stethoscope.

“The goal is to deliver high quality, patient-centered care where intensive care experts are available at the bedside when the patient needs it. This ensures patients at NHCH have timely access to intensive care specialists in their home community without having to transfer inter-island to Queen’s on Oahu. The telemedicine ICU partnership will improve outcomes by reducing treatment delays and providing state-of-the art care,” said Matthew Koenig, MD, Medical Director of Telemedicine for The Queen’s Health Systems.

Physicians and staff in the ICU at North Hawai’i Community Hospital now conduct rounds alongside intensivists at the Punchbowl campus thanks to this new technology. Intensivists are physicians who specialize in the care of critically ill patients, most often in ICUs. Having intensivists available via telemedicine has shown to reduce mortality. This top-level expertise is now available 24/7 for the sickest patients who come to North Hawai’i Community Hospital.

Scott Gallacher, MD, Medical Director of the Medical ICU at The Queen’s Medical Center, notes that “our medical center’s founder, Queen Emma, said that ‘people are the key to healing.’ Our new tele-ICU capability with NHCH may involve quite a lot of high-technology behind the scenes, but it is essentially a tool to help connect people – patients, families, nursing staff, physicians – at a time when expert help might be the most needed, enhancing our collaborative approach to care. We have already seen that our face-to-face virtual bedside interactions have been a welcome source of comfort and reassurance that the very best in critical care is being delivered within the North Hawai’i community. While we always have the option to transport patients to our Punchbowl MICU from NHCH, this new model turns old ideas of bringing patients to doctors on its head by virtually transporting specialty physicians directly and immediately to the patient bedside where timely care is essential.”

“This new system of care, with North Hawai’i Community Hospital working together with The Queen’s Medical Center, means that we are able to provide the highest quality service to our patients at an extremely critical time,” said Gary Goldberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer, North Hawai’i Community Hospital. “It also means that we can keep more patients close to home – this is good for patients and good for families.”

Aloha Green Receives Department of Health’s Notice to Proceed for Growing on Oahu

Aloha Green Holdings Inc. (Aloha Green) received its Notice to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana from the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) for Aloha Green’s second production center on Oahu – a purpose-built cannabis greenhouse the company has been developing with engineers and architects since the application. This is the first structure of its kind in the State of Hawaii for cannabis cultivation, allowing for a 400% increase in current production capability.

Aloha Green is currently leading the industry as the only licensee on Oahu to receive notice from the DOH for both production centers, in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements. Aloha Green was the first Oahu licensee to receive a Notice to Proceed to begin cultivation in Production Center #1 on February 1, 2017. Production Center #1 is a computer controlled, environmentally sealed indoor cultivation nursery with advanced cannabis cultivation equipment. The Aloha Green also has opened the first and only dispensary in the state, though there are no cannabis products currently available for sale.

Aloha Green is now authorized to expand cultivation into Production Center #2, which was designed specifically to provide a stable environment for cannabis cultivation while taking advantage of the natural growing conditions in Hawaii and reducing carbon emissions. The greenhouse’s state-of-the-art opaque roof materials provide for superior natural sunlight diffusion for optimal plant health. It has computer controlled environmental systems, light deprivation, supplemental lighting, fan controls, heating, and cooling.

“By bringing our state-of-the-art greenhouse online, Aloha Green is able to meet current and future patient demand for safe lab-tested cannabis medicine,” states Tai Cheng, Chief Operating Officer of Aloha Green, “Aloha Green hopes to become a world leader in sustainably grown greenhouse cannabis.”

James H.Q. Lee, Chief Executive Officer, adds, “Aloha Green’s goal is to provide value-priced medicine to qualified patients. Greenhouse grown cannabis will use significantly less electricity than indoor grown cannabis. These savings are being passed on to the patients. The cost of living is already high in Hawaii, and the cost of medicine should not force patients to make the hard choice of whether to seek relief from their symptoms.”

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Total Cases Nears 100

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed seven (7) additional cases this week of Oahu residents with the mumps, bringing the total number of cases this year to 96.

One (1) case was confirmed on Tuesday, June 6 and involved an adult who did not require hospitalization and is recovering. The additional six (6) cases confirmed today involve four (4) adults and two (2) children, none of whom required hospitalization.

The DOH expects to see more cases of mumps as the highly-contagious viral disease continues to circulate on Oahu.The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. While some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms, others suffer from fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.

The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can also be spread by sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils,  or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park reminds those who are sick to stay home and that the MMR vaccine provides the best protection against the disease.

“All adults born in or after 1957 without evidence of immunity to mumps and those with no documented MMR doses, should get vaccinated now,” she said. “Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second dose.”

Self-reported doses of the MMR vaccine without written documentation should not be accepted as valid. Although not ideal, receiving extra doses of the vaccine poses no medical problems. The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at:  http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Midnight Rider’s Donate to Hospice of Kona

The generosity of the Midnight Riders Motorcycle Club was warmly appreciated by Hospice of Kona, which welcomed the club’s $2,000 fundraising check. The monies will be used for quilts and stuffed bears provided to youth attending Camp Erin®-Hawaii on Hawaii Island at the end of June.

“The Midnight Riders have supported Hospice of Kona and the campers for a number of years. The bears and quilts are favorite keepsakes that are still treasured long after camp is over,” said Laura Varney, Hospice of Kona’s CEO.

Camp Erin-Hawaii is a free, weekend bereavement camp for children and teens ages 6–17 who are grieving the death of someone close to them. It is a traditional, fun, high-energy camp combined with grief education, peer bonding, and emotional support led by grief support professionals and trained volunteers. Camp Erin-Hawaii is part of The Moyer Foundation’s national Camp Erin program.

8 Additional Mumps Cases Reported in Hawaii – Outbreak Continues

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 89. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all have recovered or are recovering.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu. Information on case numbers is updated regularly at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

The DOH is recommending all adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps, who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive at least one MMR vaccine dose. Individuals with only one documented MMR dose, are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Hawaii Department of Health Receives $3.04 Million Federal Grant for Treatment of Adolescent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

The Hawaii State Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD) has received a $3.04 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide funding over four years for the treatment of adolescents and transitional aged youth with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The grant is designed to bring together stakeholders who serve Hawaii’s adolescents, enhance and expand treatment services and implement financial mechanisms and other reforms that improve the efficiency of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment efforts.

“We are moving towards our goal of a drug free Hawaii,” said Edward Mersereau, ADAD chief. “This grant will allow us to expand the Hawai‘i Adolescent and Transitional Aged Youth Treatment Implementation project (YT-I) to increase rates of abstinence, enrollment in education, vocational training, employment and social connectedness—along with decreasing criminal and juvenile justice involvement among our youth.”

ADAD’s treatment services are designed to promote a statewide culturally appropriate, comprehensive system of services to meet the treatment and recovery needs of individuals and families. Throughout this project, ADAD will have a coordinated SUD treatment services program with the department’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, Family Guidance Centers, and four drug and alcohol treatment providers.

According to a 2014 DOH report on alcohol and drug abuse treatment services in Hawaii, adolescents comprised more than half (53 percent) of the nearly 4,000 clients who received treatment by ADAD in 2014. At a six-month follow-up that same year, almost all adolescents (99 percent) who received services were attending school and the majority (61 percent) reported not abusing any substances in the 30 days prior to follow up. The vast majority of those adolescents continued to have no arrests, no hospitalizations, and no emergency room visits since discharge.

“The result of this project will be higher cross-professional training in SUD treatment practices, a more proactive approach to preventative healthcare, a concrete referral system that leaves little room for patients to fall through the cracks, and expanded use of health information technology for better informed decision-making at the point of care,” Mersereau said. “Our goal is a statewide system of treatment that is substantially more effective in utilizing existing resources and treatment methods far beyond the life of the YT-I project.”

The Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division is the primary and often sole source of public funds for substance abuse treatment in Hawaii. ADAD’s treatment efforts are designed to promote a statewide culturally appropriate, comprehensive system of services to meet the treatment and recovery needs of individuals and families. Treatment services have, as a requirement, priority admission for pregnant women and injection drug users. For more information about the division go to: http://health.hawaii.gov/substance-abuse/.

Hospice of Kona’s Memory Lane Thrift Store Seeks Beach Items

Got beach items? Hospice of Kona’s Memory Lane Thrift Store is seeking gently used boogie boards, noodles, coolers, kids sand toys, beach chairs, and more for a special Summer Fundraiser; all proceeds will benefit Hospice of Kona’s residential hospice home, Nakamaru Hale.

Donations may be made directly to Memory Lane Thrift Store, which is located at 75-5745 Kuakini Highway (where the old 7-11 used to be) Kailua-Kona, HI. For more information you may call the store at 808-326-9293.  The fundraiser will be announced later this month.

“Vacationers and visitors leave behind a lot of great beach items,” said “Laura Varney, Hospice of Kona CEO. “Other vacationers and residents who are happy to save some money and at the same time donate to Nakamaru Hale will find this the perfect fundraiser.”

Hospice of Kona opened Memory Lane Thrift Store in 2010. It features carefully chosen, gently used clothing, furniture, beach items, household goods, jewelry and unique vintage items.  All donations are tax deductible; simply request a receipt after you drop off your items.

Nakamaru Hale provides a comforting and compassionate home-like setting for hospice patients who need an alternative to home care. The residence accommodates up to five hospice patients for respite, transitional or longer-term care during their final months of life.  The Hospice of Kona health care team works closely with patient, family and doctors as they develop a customized plan to care for physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. Nakamaru Hale sits on a scenic and peaceful coffee plantation in Holualoa, HI.  For more information about Nakamaru Hale, please contact Hospice of Kona at 808-324-7700, or info@hospiceofkona.org.