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Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Explodes – 16 Additional Oahu Cases

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed 16 additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 81. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. Most of the cases are linked to previously confirmed illnesses. None of the individuals required hospitalization and all have recovered or are recovering.

The number of cases continues to steadily increase as today’s number represents test results received over the extended holiday weekend. 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/…/department-of-health-investigat…/.

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 in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccines-immun…/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also 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.

Prevent the spread of mumps in our community by:

  • Ensuring your family is fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. High vaccination coverage helps to limit the spread 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.
  • Patients suspected or diagnosed with mumps should self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine (9) days after onset of parotitis (tender, swollen jaw).
  • People who have been exposed to mumps and are not vaccinated should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.

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

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Seven New Cases Confirmed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed six (6) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps and one additional case of a resident on Kauai bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 65. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults whose infection is linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the individuals required hospitalization.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/…/department-of-health-investigat…/.

Mumps is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus is also 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.

Prevent the spread of mumps in our community by:

  • Ensuring your family is fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. High vaccination coverage helps to limit the spread 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.
  • Patients suspected or diagnosed with mumps should self-isolate and avoid going out and exposing others for nine (9) days after onset of parotitis (tender, swollen jaw).
  • People who have been exposed to mumps and are not vaccinated should not attend school, work or travel from day 12 through day 25 after exposure.

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

Skydiving Incident on the Big Island Leaves Man in Critical Condition

A skydiving incident on the Big Island of Hawaii has left a 41-year-old man in critical condition:

Hawaii Fire Department Incident Report: 10050

Type of Incident: Skydiving Accident around 11:00 am at the vacant lot Mauka of Upolu Airport

Situation Found at Scene: Found 40’s male lying on ground attended by 4-5 by-standards. Patient with multiple serious injuries. Patient treated and stabilized by medic personnel, then loaded aboard HFD Chopper 2 for transport to North Hawaii Community Hospital in critical condition.

Cause: Parachute Malfunction/high speed crash landing.

Remarks: Hawaii Fire Department Company 15, was dispatched to an Emergency Medical Service call and found 41 male solo skydiver with injuries from a “hard landing”.  According to the lead skydiver instructor, patient possibly had a malfunction with his chute.  Patient extricated to M15 for ALS treatment.  Patient was then transported to North Hawaii Community Hospital Emergency Room by M14 personnel via Chopper 2.  Patient with multi-system trauma injuries.

A view of the Upolu Airport via Skydive Hawaii when they were operating on the Big Island.

EPA Fines Oahu Farm for Pesticide and Worker Protection Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Wonder Farm, Inc. over alleged misuse of pesticides and violations of worker safety regulations at its basil farm in Waianae, Oahu. Under the agreement, the company will pay a $26,700 penalty.“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority for EPA. With our state partners, we’re focused on protecting agricultural workers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “All agriculture companies must follow pesticide label instructions and ensure their workers are trained properly to use, apply and work in treated areas.”

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) discovered the violations during inspections conducted between 2012 and 2015, and referred the case to EPA. Inspectors found the company out of compliance with EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, which aims to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

The investigation found the company had failed to:

  • Provide workers with information necessary for their safety regarding pesticide applications, including the location of the treated area, the product used, active ingredients, time of application, and any restrictions to entry.
  • Ensure that its workers and handlers had received pesticide safety training.
  • Post pesticide safety information in a central location after pesticides had been applied.
  • Ensure handlers used the required protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves and eyewear.

Inspectors also found Wonder Farm had applied several pesticide products containing the active ingredients malathion, carbaryl, and dimethoate to its basil crops. Those active ingredients are not authorized for use on basil. In addition, Wonder Farm failed to follow pesticide label instructions that set the approved application and frequency rate on crops, failed to properly clean leftover, non-refillable pesticide containers, and improperly used pesticides for cleaning spray tanks. EPA regulations for pesticide labels ensure they contain critical information about how to safely and legally handle and use the pesticide products.

For information on pesticide the pesticide Worker Protection Standard, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps

For more information on pesticide labels, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-labels/introduction-pesticide-labels

Hawaii Ranked 5th Highest in Nation for Medical Marijuana Program

Hawaii Department of Health has received a “B” and ranked the fifth highest in the nation for its medical marijuana program, based on a recent report card of new, regulated medical marijuana distribution programs issued by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

The national organization’s mission is to reduce barriers to medical cannabis by creating policies to improve access for patients and researchers, using legislation, education, litigation, research and other means.
According to the report card, “Hawaii is on track to become one of the best programs in the country if they continue with their timely implementation.”

The grades ranged from B+ to F-. Hawaii’s “B” grade was based on 430 points out of a total 500, earning a score of 86 percent. The highest grade of “B+” was awarded to Illinois, with 449 points and an overall score of 89.9 percent

The report used a point system to grade the medical marijuana programs in 44 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories Guam and Puerto Rico, based on five criteria:

  1.  Patients’ rights and protection from discrimination
  2. Access to medicine
  3. Ease of navigation
  4. Functionality
  5. Product safety protocols

The complete report can be viewed at: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/medical_marijuana_access_in_the_usa

 

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Three New Cases Reported Today

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed three (3) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 58. The recently confirmed cases involve two (2) children and one (1) adult. All three of the new cases are linked to previously confirmed cases on Oahu. None of the individuals required hospitalization and no schools were affected.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. 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.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccines-immun…/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/

Commentary – Dream to Bring Hawaiian Noni to the World in Jeopardy Thanks to DEA Form 452

As 2016 wound down, and 2017 began, the Hawaii NoniPower Cooperative sensed something amazing was just around the corner. They had bulk orders for their all natural, made in Hawai‘i, noni powder from several companies in Japan and on the mainland—with potential clients in China and South Korea. Their consumer products were packaged and ready for sale. Their website was up and getting traffic. Investors continued to write checks.

Then, on April 3rd, everything changed. Don Gleason, CEO of the Hawaii NoniPower Cooperative, received notice that their new encapsulating machine (the one they had ordered back in January to satisfy customer demand for smaller capsules and to replace the aging, temperamental machine currently being used) had been “detained.” Making it impossible, once the current inventory was exhausted, to fulfill any new orders.

Don was not sure what to do. He had spent the past nine days doing everything in his power to get the encapsulating machine from Honolulu to Hilo and now, despite his best efforts, Customs had detained it, without any explanation as to why.

Back on Sunday, March 26th, when the encapsulating machine first arrived in Honolulu, Don received a call from Peter Mainz of Triple B Forwarders. Peter informed Don that the shipment had arrived and gave him the contact information for customs broker Daniel Kim. (Customs brokers are persons who assist businesses with international imports and exports. Whenever you need a middleman to complete a transaction, you know there are way too many regulations for any ordinary businessman to stay on top of.)

On Monday, Don contacted Daniel Kim and gave him all the information requested with regards to the encapsulating machine. Daniel said he would check on the status of the shipment and call back.

The following day, Daniel Kim informed Don that before the new encapsulating machine could be shipped to Hilo, customs needed a copy of DEA Form 452. Don assured Mr. Kim that he would get it taken care of before the end of the day.

Sometimes our optimism gets run over by bureaucratic red tape. Don’s belief that filling out DEA Form 452 would be a simple task was about to meet that fate.

Don tried but was unable to locate DEA Form 452 online, so he picked up the phone and called the DEA office in Virginia, where he spoke with a Mr. John Kronebusch. John had recently given a presentation entitled “Tablet Press & Capsule Filling Machine Transaction Regulations” so if anyone was in a position to help with DEA Form 452 it was John. Unfortunately, Mr. Kronebusch informed Don that DEA Form 452 doesn’t exist.

It seems the new DEA regulations governing the sale of tablet presses and capsule fillers were scheduled to be effective January 30, 2017, but were delayed until March 31, 2017. Compliance with these new DEA regulations was originally June 28, 2017, and has been revised to July 31, 2017.

John did send Don a copy of the regulations (CFR 1310.05(b)(2)) and was as helpful as anyone can be when explaining how to comply with a regulation whose compliance date has yet to arrive. As Don put it, “It’s like getting a ticket today for going 45 on a stretch of road where even though the speed limit remains 45 today, it will be dropped to 35 next month.” Making you in violation of a regulation that has yet to take effect.

While trying to figure out just how to provide the DEA with a form that does not yet exist, Daniel Kim informed Don that a “Notice of Detention” had been filed with the stated reason of “DEA Permit Pending.” The very permit that Don had just been told did not exist—yet.

Don did learn, in a roundabout way, the identity of the local DEA agent in this case: Alex. It seems that before the Notice of Detention was issued Alex had made an unannounced visit to the factory (understandable if you suspect the factory might be doing something illegal). But, since the Hawaii NoniPower facility is only staffed when there are orders to fill, no one was there to let Alex in. So, the DEA agent left a business card with one of the employees at A&A Storage (to get to the Hawaii NoniPower facility, you must pass through A&A Storage).

The business card contained contact information for Kelly Mayne (Investigator, County of Hawai‘i, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney) along with the words “and Alex” written in blue ink.

It took several emails and phone calls before Don finally heard back from Kelly Mayne. It turned out that Kelly merely escorted the DEA agent (the “and Alex” scribbled on Kelly’s business card) to the factory. Kelly had no other involvement in this case and did not offer a way to contact Alex.

Eventually, Alex contacted Daniel Kim informing him that the DEA had seized the encapsulating machine. Daniel relayed this information along with Alex’s contact information to Don. Once again, after leaving several messages, Don finally heard back from someone.

Don got to speak with Alex and explain how the new encapsulating machine was so that smaller capsules could be created for Hawaii NoniPower’s Asian customers. The new machine would also replace the existing machine which was not very reliable. Don offered to pay all expenses to fly Alex back out to Hilo for a tour of the facility as well as send Alex any documentation necessary to demonstrate that Hawaii NoniPower Cooperative is a legitimate business in need of the encapsulating machine that he had detained.

Alex replied, “it is in Customs hands now. Please contact Lisa Young whose name is on the detention notice.” (Bet you can guess what transpired next.)

Don has been calling Lisa’s number for days now, only to hear the message, “not at my desk right now please leave your name and number and I will call you back.”

“I have not received a callback,” Don said. “Our machine has been in Honolulu for almost two months now. Our customer, who wanted smaller capsules, could not wait any longer and has gone and found another supplier.”

So, in a last-ditch effort to stay in business and provide customers with the best noni powder in the world (their dehydration process is patented) they have resorted to selling their noni powder in plastic baggies.

“We had to order baggies and get labels made so we could still deliver product to our customers,” Don explained. “We still have a few bottles of our Sp02 and Foundation products on hand, but once those run out we have no way to make more until our new encapsulating machine arrives. We cannot sell those products in baggies like we do the 100% pure noni powder.” And there is no telling now when—or if—the new encapsulating machine will arrive.

In the meantime, the Hawaii NoniPower Cooperative is reaching out to politicians, the media, and anyone who might be able to help cut through the red tape. They are also hoping people will support them by buying out their current inventory as well as purchasing their baggies of 100% pure noni.

Who would have imagined that a small nutritional supplement provider in Hawai‘i would face extinction due to the actions of a lone DEA agent and a DEA Form that does not exist?

Don Gleason, Hawaii Noni Power (HawaiiNoniPower.com)

Hawaii Department of Health Confirms Four Additional Mumps Cases on Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed four (4) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 51. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults. Two of the cases are linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the cases required hospitalization.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.

The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. 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.

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/.

Hospice of Hilo Volunteer Training

Hospice of Hilo is looking to add to its volunteer team and will conduct a training session in June for those members of the community interested in giving a few hours a week to uplift others.  “Hospice of Hilo is an excellent organization to be part of. They treat all patients, as well as volunteers with lots of aloha,” said volunteer, Marion Kittleson-Villanueva.  “I have been a volunteer for over a dozen years. Serving others brings much joy and is an opportunity to give back to our Hilo.”

2017 Hospice of Hilo Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon attendees

New volunteers can choose to provide services like companionship, respite, transportation, light housework, yardwork, or administrative support.  Hospice of Hilo is especially in need of Licensed Massage Therapists who wish to share their gift of care, and volunteers who would like to take a shift on a night or weekend.

Training dates are:  June 20, 22, 27 & 29 from 4:30pm to 8:30pm.  Interested trainees should contact Volunteer Manager, Jeanette Mochida at jeanettem@hospiceofhilo.org or call 969-1733 to arrange a required pre-training interview.

Hospice of Hilo provides specialized comfort care for patients facing a life-limiting or serious illness.  Services are delivered to patients in their place of residence from Laupahoehoe to South Point, Ka‘u, or at the Pōhai Mālama a Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Care Center.  In addition to hospice services, Hospice of Hilo also provides free bereavement counseling to any and all residents who have lost a loved one (regardless of whether the loved one received hospice care). For more information about Hospice of Hilo visit www.hospiceofhilo.org or call 969-1733.

UH Hilo College of Pharmacy Names Spring 2017 Dean’s List

The following students from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy have been named to the Dean’s List for the 2017 spring semester.

The Class of 2017 has been on experiential rotations during their final year of study.

Class of 2018: Chelsea Aipoalani, Tiffany Alberg, Ciara Butts, Goody Cacal, Robby-Sean Cayetano, Matt Chen, Jane Choi, Karen Christian, Mathew Eng, Sara Evanko, Erik Ferreira, Jennifer Fujio, Cierra Gauvin, Kelli Goo, Kelsy Kam, Jui-Yu Kao, Jonathan Kataoka, Macie Kim, Krystle Kiyuna, Katrina Kutter, Bernice La, XuanLam Le, Tram Le, Jessica Lee, Nicolette Lew, Miyuki Miller, Niaz Nafisi, Christopher Nakagawa, Kerri Nakatsu, Vicky Nguyen, Phuong Nguyen, Phuong An Nguyen-Huu, Megan Olaguer, Marina Ortiz, Carli Owan, Jessica Penaranda, Tran Pham, Joann Phan, Niko Pogorevcnik, Caroline Rhee, Lauren Sato, Lauren Skorheim, Andrew Skorheim, John James Taman, Ha Tran, Quan Truong, Paolo Vinh Tuan Truong, Amber Uto, Zebedee Walpert, Candace Woo, Seungyeun Yoo

Class of 2019: Sydney Barney, Deniz Bicakci, Athena Borhauer, Rene-Scott Chavez, Torrence Ching, Katrina Downey, Samantha Gonzalez, Cathlyn Goo, Leigh Heffner, Faith Hicks, Vance Hill, Tyler Hirokawa, Preston Ho, Kaylee Hoang, Kelly Kofalt, Logan Kostur, Kevin Lei, San Ly, Kate Malasig, Tyler Millar, Jennifer Nguyen, Kelsey Noetzelmann, Kara Paulachak, David Pham, Gam Phan, Rachel Randall, Jessica Regpala, Lindsey Reinholz, Desiree Shouse, Clement Tran Tang, Shannon Trinh, Nicholas Tsoi, Ashley Uehara, Nancy Wong, Veronica Wong, Krystin Yasay, Carrie Yeung

Class of 2020: BJ Isaac Acosta, David Cao, Brandi Chun, Wilson Datario, Joshua Dillon, Jensine Melody Domingo, Courtney Elam, Amelia Furlan, Jhoana Paula Gonzales, Taylor Hori, Su Hyon Kwon, Kamala Lizama, Tracy Lopez, Mary Lui, Vincent Manalo, Jarin Miyamoto, Shahrzad Mohammadi, Tony Moua, Stacey Nguyen, Andrew Nguyen, Kathleen Nguyen, Brent Ocker, Rachel Paragas, Tyler Peterson, Felix Rasgo, Robyn Rector, Taumie Richie, Shaina Saiki, Reid Shimada, Samantha Texeira, Andrew Thai, Jared Toba, Johnny Tran, Kelsey Trujillo, Kyle Tsubota, Thi Hong Vo, Stacie Waiamau, Brooke Zarriello

Public Informational Meeting on Rat Lungworm Disease on Molokai

The Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH), Maui District Health Office, will hold a public informational meeting on rat lungworm disease on Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at the Mitchell Pauole Community Center on Molokaʻi from 5:30 p.m. to 7 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 Lorrin W. Pang, M.D., Maui District Health Officer; Sara Routley, Health Educator; Alton Arakaki from the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR); Harmonee Williams of Sustʻaina-ble Molokaʻi; and Lori Buchanan from the Nature Conversancy of Hawai‘i.

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 Hawai‘i for 2017, including nine (9) from Hawai‘i 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, community meetings have been held across Maui 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.

The informational meeting on Moloka‘i is also supported by Rosie Davis from Huli Au Ola Area Health Education Center (AHEC); Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and staff; Luana Alcon from the Maui County Parks & Recreation-Moloka‘i District; Margaret Makekau and DOH staff-Moloka‘i Office; State Senator J. Kalani English; and State Representative Lynn DeCoite.

Please call the AHEC at (808) 646-9037 or the DOH Maui District Health Office at (808) 984-8201 for more information on the meeting.

MUMPS OUTBREAK – Hawaii Department of Health Confirms FIVE ADDITIONAL Mumps Cases

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed five (5) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 47. The recently confirmed cases include children and adults whose infection is linked to other cases on Oahu. None of the cases required hospitalization.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.

The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. 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.

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/.

Reps. Gabbard, Garrett Urge House to Pass Federal Marijuana Decriminalization Legislation

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Tom Garrett (VA-05) hosted a press conference today urging Congress to pass H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. They were joined by Beth Collins and Lisa Smith who shared their personal stories of how by providing CBD oil to their children who suffer from near-constant seizures, they risk Federal prosecution simply due to the conflicting laws between the state and Federal government. If passed, the bill would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—treating it the same as substances like alcohol and tobacco.

Left to right: Haley Smith, Beth Collins, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Rep. Tom Garrett urge Congress to pass the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Our archaic Federal laws relating to marijuana are hurting people, tearing families apart, turning everyday Americans into criminals, and negatively impacting our economy, all at a tremendous cost to taxpayers as billions are spent on an over-burdened and broken criminal justice system. As the opioid addiction epidemic continues to spread across the country, states that have legalized medical marijuana have seen addiction rates drop and opioid abuse deaths decrease by over 20%. Medical marijuana has helped children like Haley Smith living with Dravet syndrome reduce her seizures and other symptoms. But her mother Lisa lives with the fear of Federal prosecution every day. Our current policy makes no sense. This bill is a bipartisan effort that will be a great step forward in solving many of the fiscal and social challenges that our current policy is causing, and I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this bill.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. She recently visited correctional facilities throughout Hawaiʻi, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

This bill would also eliminate key barriers to developing an industrial hemp industry which would create jobs and provide economic opportunity to communities in Hawaiʻi, and across the country. The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

12 New Cases of Mumps Reported in Hawaii in Last Two Days

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today (May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.) confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 42.

Yesterday, Department of Health confirmed 9 new cases. Of the cases confirmed yesterday, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai. Thus far, no cases have required hospitalization. This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.The recently confirmed cases include children and adults at Central Middle School and the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo. The remaining cases are made up of individuals whose source of exposure is still under investigation. DOH is working closely with both the Department of Education and Job Corps Center to contact and notify those individuals who may have come into contact with confirmed cases during their infectious periods.

At this point in the investigation, the confirmed adult resident from Kauai cannot be linked to the clusters identified on Oahu. The case has no known travel history and investigation is ongoing to determine if this case is a new introduction or part of the larger Oahu outbreak.

“Mumps is a highly contagious disease and we expect to see more cases as this outbreak continues,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park. “We have alerted healthcare providers and ask them for vigilance in controlling the disease and its spread with careful, early diagnosis. If people think they may have mumps, seek medical attention immediately as this illness is most contagious in the several days before and after the onset of parotitis, which is the swelling of the salivary glands in front of the ears.”

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms.

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 is important in helping to protect the public’s health across the state.

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/.

Timeline:

  • May 16, 2017: DOH has confirmed three (3) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.
  • May 15, 2017: DOH today confirmed nine (9) additional cases of mumps in Hawaii residents, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 39.  Of the cases confirmed today, eight (8) of the cases live on Oahu and one (1) case resides on Kauai.  This ongoing investigation represents the largest number of mumps cases seen in Hawaii since 2001.
  • May 12, 2017: DOH today confirmed three (3) additional cases of mumps in residents in East Oahu.  This brings the total number of cases in 2017 to 30. The Department is investigating a cluster of cases exposed at the Job Corps Center in Waimanalo.  Those who came in contact with the individuals during their infectious period are being notified.  The Department of Health is working closely with the Job Corps Center to monitor all program participants and staff to identify, control, or prevent additional cases.
  • May 11, 2017: DOH has confirmed four (4) additional cases of adults with mumps on Oahu.  As of May 11, there are a total of 27 cases reported for 2017.  Mumps is currently circulating not only in Hawaii, but also nationwide and in international areas.  The Centers For Disease Control’s (CDC) webpage at: (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/outbreaks.html) shows many mumps outbreaks and clusters, some of which have been on-going since last year.  Nationwide from Jan. 1 to April 22, 2017, a total of 42 states and the District of Columbia reported mumps infections in 2,570 people.  DOH’s investigation of reported cases is continuing.
  • May 8, 2017: DOH continues to investigate an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide.  The number of confirmed cases of mumps for 2017 is 23.  The disease has been confirmed in children and adults, both vaccinated and unvaccinated.  As the numbers of cases investigated related to the initial two clusters increases, the identification of new isolated (i.e., no travel and no relation to those clusters) cases grows.  To date, none of the infected individuals have required hospitalization for mumps.
  • April 28, 2017: DOH has been investigating an increasing number of cases of mumps infection statewide. Since March 2017, DOH has become aware of two clusters of cases, together involving at least nine (9) individuals on Oahu, bringing the total number of confirmed cases statewide this year to fourteen (14).

Statement of Support for U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

House Speaker Scott Saiki released the following statement after hearing that U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono will be treated for kidney cancer.

“The members of the Hawaii House of Representatives send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to Senator Mazie Hirono as she battles kidney cancer,” said House Speaker Scott Saiki. “Senator Hirono is both strong in spirit and in her efforts to represent the people of Hawaii. We send our thoughts and prayers to her and her family.”

Maps of Cesspools on Hawaii Island and Hilo – 90,000 Banned Statewide By 2050

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency required the County of Hawaii to close 7 large cesspools here on the Big Island of Hawai.

Hawaii House Bill 1244 has passed and is headed to Governor Ige to sign into law.

Cesspools on the Island of Hawaii.

The bill as written would ban the currently 90,000 cesspools that are already here in Hawaii (50,000 of those on the Big Island alone) by the year 2050.

Cesspools in Hilo (I did not zoom into each TMK property… I just checked to make sure I was in the clear!)

Hawaii House Bill 1244:

According to the Hawaii Department of Health:

Cesspools are substandard systems.  They don’t treat wastewater, they merely dispose of it. Cesspools concentrate the wastewater in one location, often deep within the ground and in direct contact with groundwater, causing groundwater contamination.  This groundwater flows into drinking water wells, streams and the ocean, harming public health and the environment, including beaches and coral reefs.

 What are cesspools?

  • Cesspools are little more than holes in the ground that discharge raw, untreated human waste.
  • Cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances.
  • Untreated wastewater from cesspools contains pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and cholera.

 How many cesspools do we have in Hawai`i?

  •  There are approximately 90,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island,  almost 14,000 on Kauai, over  12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on Oahu and over 1,400 on Molokai.
  •  Hawai`i is the only state in the US that still allows construction of new cesspools.
  •  Approximately 800 new cesspools are approved for construction in Hawai`i each year.

How many cesspools pose a risk to our water resources and how do they impact our environment?

  •  There are 87,000 cesspools that pose a risk to our water resources.
  •  There are approximately 6,700 cesspools that are located within 200 feet of a perennial stream channel  throughout the State.  There  are approximately 31,000 cesspools that are located within the perennial  watersheds on the islands of Hawai`i, Kauai, Maui, and  Molokai.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release approximately 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each  day.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of  phosphorus into the ground each  day each day, which can stimulate undesirable algae growth, degrade  water quality, and impact coral reefs.

Click here to see if your property needs certification or is near a cesspool: Act 120 Eligibility Cesspool Finder

State to Discontinue Mailing Disabled Parking Placard Renewal Notices

Effective immediately, the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB), Department of Health, State of Hawaii, will discontinue mailing courtesy renewal notices to persons with long-term disability parking placards expiring on or after July 31, 2017.

“The administrative cost to print and mail out over 1,500 notices a month was substantial, and as the State recently switched from issuing four-year term placards to six-year term placards, we discovered that a significant number of placard holders do not have a current mailing address on file with us,” said DCAB Executive Director Francine Wai.

The placard expiration date is printed on both sides of a placard and on the identification card issued with the placard. Placard holders are now responsible to check their placard expiration date and submit a renewal application form should they continue to have a qualifying disability.

Renewal application forms may be submitted up to 60 days before the expiration date or at any time following the expiration date. The form requires that a physician or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) certify the applicant’s disability. The form is available online at http://health.hawaii.gov/dcab/parking/, at all County Satellite City Halls and DMV offices, the Hawaii County Office on Aging, or by calling DCAB at (808) 586-8121.

There is no charge for renewal of a long-term (blue-colored) disability parking placard.

Placard renewals are processed by mail only. Therefore, completed renewal application forms must be mailed to: DCAB, P.O. Box 3377, Honolulu, HI 96801.

Hawaii AG Joins in Call for Expansion of Medicaid Fraud Authority

Attorney General Doug Chin yesterday joined the attorneys general of 37 states and the District of Columbia urging the federal government to change its policy so state attorneys general can use federal funds to investigate and prosecute a wider range of Medicaid abuse and neglect cases.

The letter was sent to Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

Click to read letter

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides free or low-cost medical benefits to millions of Americans. More than 6.4 million people enrolled in the Medicaid program are age 65 or older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 persons age 65 and older who live at home will become a victim of abuse.

Attorney General Chin said, “The Hawaii Medicaid Fraud Control Unit receives thousands of complaints relating to fraud and abuse and neglect every year. We will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute these cases. We hope that the federal government will hear our concerns and support our efforts to protect Hawaii’s most vulnerable residents.”

Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) investigate and prosecute state Medicaid provider fraud and resident abuse and neglect complaints in board and care facilities. In Hawaii, MFCU operates in the Department of the Attorney General.

According to the bipartisan letter signed by Attorney General Chin:

“[T]he current strict federal limitations on states’ ability to use MFCU assets to investigate abuse and neglect are outdated, arbitrarily restrict our ability to protect Medicaid beneficiaries from abuse and neglect as Congress intended, and should be replaced or eliminated.

We respectfully request you take swift action to eliminate federal regulations that needlessly narrow our use of these valuable assets. Instead, we request to be freed to use federal MFCU funds to detect, investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect committed against Medicaid beneficiaries or in connection with Medicaid-funded services to the fullest extent permitted by federal statute.”

The letter from NAAG offered two specific recommendations:

  • Allow MFCU federals funds to be used to investigate and prosecute abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries in non-institutional settings (i.e. home health care).
  • Allow use of MFCU federal funds to freely screen or review any and all complaints or reports of whatever type, in whatever setting.

A copy of the letter is attached.

Governor Ige Announces 32 Percent Decrease in Hawai‘i County’s Homeless Count

Gov. David Ige announced today that the homeless population across the state decreased for the first time in eight years. The annual Point in Time count—a census of people experiencing homelessness—showed a nine percent overall decrease in the number of homeless individuals across the state.

Click to see brochure

This year’s count found 7,220 homeless individuals across Hawai‘i compared to 7,921 in 2016.

Hawai‘i County saw the largest decline in homeless individuals – a 32 percent decrease.

“We have partnered with every mayor in every county, along with the private sector and service providers. We’ve had housing summits to identify the benefits of renting to the homeless. We have service providers to provide supportive care so that we can place families in permanent housing. It’s terrific news that homelessness is down 32 percent on Hawai‘i Island,” Gov. Ige said.

Maui County saw a 22 percent decline in homeless individuals and Kaua‘i County experienced a seven percent drop compared to 2016. O‘ahu saw a half percent increase in homeless individuals.

“I commend the many partners who have gotten out of their silos, come to the table and rolled up their sleeves. Together, we are finding more efficient ways to move people off the streets and into homes. This report is proof that our collective efforts are working,” said Gov. Ige. “While today’s news indicates that the tide has turned, there is more to do. My administration remains focused on increasing affordable housing and reducing homelessness in the State of Hawai‘i.”

A link to the overview of Point in Time’s full report, compiled by Hawai‘i’s two Continuums of Care—Bridging the Gap and Partners in Care—can be found on the governor’s website at governor.hawaii.gov.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognizes Maui Medical Professionals for National Nurses & Hospitals Week

In recognition of National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and National Hospital Week (May 7-13), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, visited Maui Memorial Medical Center today to show her appreciation and support to nurses and other medical professionals who care for the people in our community. She toured the hospital, met with surgeons, doctors, nurses, staff, and held a Town Hall meeting with employees who gathered in the hospital auditorium for a congressional update and Q&A session.

“Nurses are the heart of our healthcare system, and I’ve introduced legislation to help recruit, train, and retain nurses, especially in our rural and underserved communities,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard in her remarks to Maui Memorial Medical Center nurses and colleagues. “Thank you for what you do, for persevering, for taking care of people, and for being that heartbeat that keeps on serving the people of our community.”

In February, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959) to secure federal funding for education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States. The legislation is endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and more than 50 other national nursing organizations.