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Statewide Public Hearings On Proposed Amendments to State Boating Rules

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will hold public hearings statewide starting next week on proposed amendments to state boating rules.

Click to view proposed changes

These amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) are being proposed to allow DLNR to better manage and facilitate boating and ocean recreation-related activities within State small

Boat harbors and nearshore waters, and to reorganize the HAR provisions relating to DOBOR for clarity and general efficacy.

“This extensive rule package contains modifications we have wanted to make for many years,” says Ed Underwood, DOBOR administrator.  “Some amendments are being proposed because facility management and the ocean recreation industry are changing rapidly and our existing rules cannot address the way people are using our harbors and the ocean today.  Some rules are being repealed because they are obsolete.  In all cases, the rules being proposed will allow DOBOR to do its job of managing its facilities and responsibilities more effectively.”

Proposed amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules,Title 13, Subtitle 11, Ocean Recreation and Coastal Areas, parts I, II and III, are posted on the DOBOR website at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules/

Hearings to present the rules and accept public testimony will be held as follows:

On Kauai – July 24, 2017, 6 to 8 p.m. at Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria. 4319 Hardy Street in Lihue.

On Maui – July 26, 2017, 5 to 7 p.m.at Velma McWayne Santos Community Center Wailuku Community Complex, 395 Waena Place in Wailuku.

On Hawaii Island (Hilo) — July 27, 2017, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Hilo State Building Conference Room 75 Aupuni Street.

On Hawaii Island (Kona) — July 28, 2017,  6 to 8 p.m. at Kealakehe High School Cafeteria 74-5000 Puohulihuli Street, Kailua-Kona.

On Oahu —  July 29, 2017,  8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Aiea Elementary School Cafeteria 99-370 Moanalua Road.

Notice was published in The Garden Island, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Maui News, and West Hawaii Today. During the comment period DOBOR will only accept testimony on the rules proposed for amendment.

All interested parties are invited to attend the meetings and to present their views on the proposed amendments, either orally or in writing.

All forms of written comments will be accepted up to one week following the last public hearing date, by midnight, Saturday August 5, 2017.

If you are unable to attend the public hearing to submit your testimony, written testimony may be submitted:

  1. By e-mail to dlnr.harreview@hawaii.gov, Subject: Rule Amendment Package 2017;
  2. By fax to (808) 587-1977, Attn: Rule Amendment Package 2017.
  3. By mail to the Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, Attn: Chairperson, Re: Rule Amendment Package 2017

The proposed rule amendments can be reviewed online on the Division of Boating and Ocean

Recreation (DOBOR) website located at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules or can be

Reviewed in person at the following DOBOR district offices:

  • Hawaii District Office – 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740, Telephone: (808) 327-3690
  • Kauai District Office – 2494 Niumalu Road, Lihue, Hawaii 96766, Telephone: (808) 241-3111
  • Maui District Office – 101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Road, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793, Telephone: (808) 243-5824
  • Oahu District Office – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, Phone: (808) 832-3520

Persons unable to review the proposed rule changes online or in person may request, verbally or in writing, a copy of the proposed rules. A charge of $0.50 per page will be assessed for hard copies. Hard copies will be mailed at no charge upon receipt of a valid request and applicable payment. Please make requests to:

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, (808) 832-3520

Meeting locations are disability accessible. For persons requiring special needs accommodations (e.g., large print, taped materials, sign language interpreter, etc.), please call (808) 832-3520 at least one week in advance of the designated date and time of the applicable public hearing to make special needs requests.

State of Hawai‘i Partners with SANS Institute to Help Students Test Cyber Aptitude

Participants serve as ‘Cyber Protection Agents’ in free online simulation

Gov. David Y. Ige today announced a partnership between the State of Hawai‘i and SANS Institute to offer high school and college students the opportunity this summer to participate in a free online cybersecurity assessment and exercise called CyberStart.

In coordination with the Hawaii Departments of Education and Defense, University of Hawaii, and the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), SANS Institute is encouraging students to participate in the CyberStart program, which involves a game simulation through which students interested in cybersecurity as a career can learn basic cybersecurity skills and test their cyber aptitude. An introductory “practice” version of CyberStart is available through July 28, 2017. The full-scale program will run from Aug. 1 to 28, 2017.

“CyberStart is an innovative opportunity for Hawaii students to test and develop skills applicable to careers in high-demand IT security and related fields,” Gov. Ige said. “There is clearly high interest in cybersecurity among Hawaii youth, as demonstrated by strong participation in existing programs coordinated by the Department of Education, University of Hawai‘i, and organizations such as Cyber Hui. Exploration of this exciting career path can now continue with CyberStart.”

Students don’t have to travel to participate; all they need is an Internet-connected computer and a desire to explore. Each player starts as a “cyber protection agent” responsible for protecting a hypothetical operational base. The student chooses and solves challenges, earning points along the way. An agent field manual provides answers to questions that may arise and helpful hints when players get stuck. When the player has solved a sufficient number of challenges at one level, a new level opens and new challenges appear – for a total of 31 layers. Experienced players have cited CyberStart as being particularly useful to a wide variety of students because everyone can excel, not just a few superstars.

Students who excel in the CyberStart game will have the opportunity to share in $150,000 in scholarships for further cyber education, and ultimately for $500,000 in scholarships for college and graduate-level training in preparation for highly sought-after industry certifications.

“It’s exciting to see our youth being given the opportunity to excel in cybersecurity with the CyberStart program,” said Reynold Hioki, state cybersecurity coordinator within the Hawai‘i Department of Defense, whose protective mission extends to law enforcement agencies and public sector partners providing critical infrastructure and services to the Hawaii community. “Hawai‘i is taking advantage of CyberStart and other related youth programs like CyberPatriot, CyberCamps, GenCyber, Safe and Secure Online, and Hacker High school that directly contribute to increasing the state’s cybersecurity posture.”

ETS Chief Information Security Officer Vincent Hoang, who is responsible for securing state government information resources and infrastructure, said: “These types of programs provide a fun and interactive environment where students are exposed to challenges of varying difficulty and are approachable at any experience level. This is a great opportunity for students to level up their cybersecurity skills.”

SANS Director of Research Alan Paller added: “SANS trains more than 30,000 advanced cybersecurity professionals each year for military and intelligence organizations and for large high-tech companies in the U.S. and its allies. We discovered that those who have mastered the topics taught and measured in the CyberStart program do far better than others in the advanced cybersecurity courses that prepare the critically needed people. By opening CyberStart to hundreds of thousands of students we may be able to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

To join the program, participants must be 16 years or older and enrolled in any high school or college in Hawai‘i, Delaware, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Rhode Island, or Virginia. For more information, visit: www.sans.org/cyberstartUS

PISCES and Honeybee Robotics Receive $119K Grant From NASA

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) and Honeybee Robotics, Ltd. have received a $118,690 NASA Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to jointly develop an In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technology that could launch the future of space settlement.

ISRU takes raw, natively sourced materials and converts them into usable resources. On places like the Moon and Mars, ISRU can transform regolith (or surface soil) into critical necessities like oxygen, water, rocket fuel and construction materials.PISCES and Honeybee Robotics have partnered on the 12-month ISRU project to design and develop an automated construction process that creates building blocks made entirely of sintered Hawaiian basalt. Since Hawaii’s basalt closely resembles Martian and lunar regolith in chemical composition and appearance, the blocks will have applications both on Earth and in space. ISRU basalt materials could enable the construction of habitats, tools, shelters, roads, landing pads and other critical infrastructure required for space settlement. Basalt building blocks could also provide a sustainable new construction material for the State of Hawaii in place of imported cement.

Through the STTR grant, PISCES is currently investigating the ideal sintering temperature to create these building blocks with an optimal balance of strength and volume. Honeybee Robotics is designing a robotic process for creating and/or deploying the blocks to automate the ISRU construction process. The Brooklyn-based company designs, builds and integrates technologies for a range of challenging environments including space exploration. It has contributed sample acquisition and processing tools for NASA rovers currently exploring Mars.

“We are excited to be working with Honeybee Robotics again on this NASA STTR project,” said PISCES Program Manager, Rodrigo Romo. “Honeybee was a key partner in our robotically built launch and landing pad that we constructed using only local basalt materials. This grant award will take the process a step further, allowing us to optimize the building block design and construction materials to allow for both vertical and horizontal construction applications that can be used both on Earth and on other celestial bodies for space settlement.”

A Honeybee Rover

“Hawaiian basalt is a great analog to the challenging environments we are likely to find on Mars or the Moon, where autonomous ISRU systems will need to work reliably and autonomously in tough conditions,” said Kris Zacny, vice president of the Exploration Technology Group at Honeybee Robotics. “Using local resources will be critical to enable new mission architectures by harvesting materials from the planet as needed. Also, approaches we develop for ISRU can also have applications in space mining, opening doors for both exploration and commercial missions. That’s why we’re so excited to be working with PISCES to advance our experience and robotic technologies.”

The STTR-funded project is Phase I in the development for planetary building blocks. If successful, PISCES and Honeybee Robotics will solicit a proposal for a Phase II STTR award which provides funding awards up to $1 million over two years.

The joint PISCES-Honeybee Robotics project was selected among 1,621 proposals submitted to NASA’s 2017 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and STTR programs. Of those, NASA selected 61 STTR Phase I proposals to negotiate contracts for funding. NASA’s STTR Program funds businesses and research institutions developing technologies that can support the space agency’s missions into deep space.

Hawaii Department of Health Reminds Food Establishments of Law Prohibiting Use of Latex Gloves

Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) food safety inspectors will begin stepping up enforcement of a State law that bans the use of latex gloves by Hawaii’s food service industry.

Act 180, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017, prohibits the use of latex gloves by personnel working in food establishments. DOH has asked the Hawaii Restaurant Association, Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association, the Hawaii Food Industry Association and the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Associations to remind their members about the latex glove prohibition.

“Enforcing the prohibition will be a routine part of our food safety inspections,” said Peter Oshiro, head of the state’s food safety program. “Our inspectors and field staff will be checking food establishments to ensure that workers are not using latex gloves, and educating management and staff about the new law.”

Non-compliance with the law may result in fines of up to $10,000 for each offense. Violations of the ban will not affect a food establishment’s placard status.

The original measure, SB911 SD2 HD2 CD1, was co-introduced in 2015 by State Sen. Rosalyn Baker and former senator Suzanne Chun-Oakland and signed into law by Gov. David Ige in July 2016. The purpose of the bill is to prevent the occurrence of severe and potentially life threatening allergic reactions such as impaired breathing and anaphylaxis by those who are sensitive to latex. An estimated three million people in the U.S. are allergic to latex, according to the American Latex Allergy Association.

DOH requires all food-handlers who come into contact with ready-to-eat food products to use gloves to prevent the occurrence of food illnesses. Non-latex and nitrile gloves are readily available and currently used by employees in both the food service and health care industries.

DOH’s Sanitation Branch protects and promotes the health of Hawaii’s residents and visitors through education of food industry workers and regulation of food establishments statewide. The branch conducts routine health inspections of food establishments where food products are prepared, manufactured, distributed or sold.

The branch also investigates the sources of foodborne illnesses and potential adulteration and is charged with mitigating foodborne outbreaks and/or the prevention of future occurrences. Health inspectors work with business owners, food service workers and the food industry to ensure food preparation practices and sanitary conditions.

For more information on the department’s food safety program, go to: http://health.hawaii.gov/san/.

University of Hawaii Research Uses Satellites to Predict End of Volcanic Eruptions

Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) recently discovered that infrared satellite data could be used to predict when lava flow-forming eruptions will end.

Map of 34 volcanoes used to test hypothesis. Modified from Google Maps.

Using NASA satellite data, Estelle Bonny, a graduate student in the SOEST Department of Geology and Geophysics, and her mentor, Hawai‘i Institute for Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) researcher Robert Wright, tested a hypothesis first published in 1981 that detailed how lava flow rate changes during a typical effusive volcanic eruption. The model predicted that once a lava flow-forming eruption begins, the rate at which lava exits the vent quickly rises to a peak and then reduces to zero over a much longer period of time—when the rate reaches zero, the eruption has ended.

HIGP faculty developed a system that uses infrared measurements made by NASA’s MODIS sensors to detect and measure the heat emissions from erupting volcanoes—heat is used to retrieve the rate of lava flow.

Mt. Etna from space. Credit: NASA & US/Japan ASTER Science Team.

“The system has been monitoring every square kilometer of Earth’s surface up to four times per day, every day, since 2000,” said Bonny. “During that time, we have detected eruptions at more than 100 different volcanoes around the globe. The database for this project contains 104 lava flow-forming eruptions from 34 volcanoes with which we could test this hypothesis.”

Once peak flow was reached, the researchers determined where the volcano was along the predicted curve of decreasing flow and therefore predict when the eruption will end. While the model has been around for decades, this is the first time satellite data was used with it to test how useful this approach is for predicting the end of an effusive eruption. The test was successful.

Erupting Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

“Being able to predict the end of a lava flow-forming eruption is really important, because it will greatly reduce the disturbance caused to those affected by the eruption, for example, those who live close to the volcano and have been evacuated,” said Bonny.

“This study is potentially relevant for the Hawai’i island and its active volcanoes,” said Wright. “A future eruption of Mauna Loa may be expected to display the kind of pattern of lava discharge rate that would allow us to use this method to try to predict the end of eruption from space.”

In the future, the researchers plan to use this approach during an ongoing eruption as a near-real time predictive tool.

UH Study: Underwater Plate Size Spiders Breathes Through Its Legs

Sea spiders, a bizarre and ancient group of marine arthropods in the class Pycnogonida, breathe in a way not previously known to science, according to a study involving University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher Amy Moran and Zoology PhD student Caitlin Shishido.

A dinner-plate-sized Antarctic sea spider. Photo by C. Shishido

The study, published in the July 10 issue of Current Biology, was performed at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, while Moran and her team were there in the fall of 2016. Sea spiders in Antarctica can reach the size of dinner plates, part of a phenomenon known as “polar gigantism.” Most animals extract oxygen from the environment using specialized structures like gills and lungs, and distribute oxygen through their bodies using hearts and blood vessels. Sea spiders, distant marine relatives of land spiders, have no specialized structures to take up oxygen and their hearts are weak. Moran and her colleagues showed that sea spiders get oxygen through the surface of their legs and move it around their bodies while digesting their food with peristaltic contractions of the gut, which extends out to the end of all of the animal’s 8 to 12 legs.

UH Mānoa researcher Amy Moran dives with sea spiders in Antarctica. Photo by R. Robbins

“We are really excited about these results because they show that sea spiders solve one of life’s biggest challenges—getting oxygen into the body and taking it where it needs to go—in a way that is new to science,” said Moran. “The next thing we would love to know is if this is unique to sea spiders, or if other animals also move oxygen with their guts and we just never knew about it.”

Jon Harrison, a professor of biology at Arizona State University not involved in the project, says “This study beautifully demonstrates that sea spiders use their legs like gills and their guts like hearts, illustrating the important role of basic research in revealing very fundamental attributes of animal function.”

This work was funded by grants from the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation.

Hundreds of Species of Fungi in Deep Coral Ecosystems Discovered by UH Manoa Botanists

Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Botany have discovered hundreds of potentially new species of fungi in the deep coral ecosystem in the ‘Au‘au channel off Maui. Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCE) are generally found at depths between 130 to 500 feet and possess abundant plant (algal) life as well as new fish species. The mysteries of these reefs are only recently being revealed through technological advances in closed circuit rebreather diving. Previously overlooked—being too precarious for conventional SCUBA and too shallow to justify the cost of frequent submersible dives—mesophotic reefs continuously disclose breathtaking levels of biodiversity with each dive, yielding species and behavioral interactions new to science.

Manipulator arm of the Pisces V sub collecting algae in ‘Au‘au channel. Credit: HURL.               

The UH Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) used the Pisces V submersible to collect native algae from the mesophotic reefs in the ‘Au‘au channel. Using the DNA sequencing facility at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, Benjamin Wainwright, lead author of the study and a botany postdoctoral researcher, and colleagues determined which species of fungus were associated with the native algae.

Fungi have been documented in almost all habitats on Earth, although marine fungi are less studied in comparison to their terrestrial counterparts. Scientists have found fungi in deep and shallow water corals, marine sponges and other invertebrates. The recently discovered fungi, however, were found living in association with algae.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first documented evidence confirming fungi in MCEs,” said Wainwright.

Additionally, the research team discovered that 27% of the species detected in these deep dark environments are also found on terrestrial rainforest plants in Hawai‘i.

Rebreather diver and Pisces V sub collecting coral and macroalgae. Credit: Robert K. Whitton.

“Finding such high overlap of fungal diversity on terrestrial plants was surprising. Mesophotic reefs are as dark as it gets where photosynthesis is still possible, so to find the same species of fungi on forest plants illustrates the remarkable ability of some fungi to tolerate, and thrive, in extremely different habitats,” said Anthony Amend, senior author of the study and UH Mānoa associate professor of botany. “This ecological breadth is something that seemingly sets fungi apart from other organisms.”

Plant-associated fungi provide many benefits to society. For example, Taxol, a chemotherapy medication used to treat cancers, is produced by a fungus found inside tree bark and leaves. Additionally, research has shown that fungi are useful in bioremediation efforts (for example, oil spill and industrial waste treatment) and capable of breaking down plastic waste.

It is currently not known whether the newly discovered fungal species are pathogens, helpful symbionts or unimportant to their algae hosts.

“Further, we don’t currently know what metabolic capabilities they have that may prove to have medical or environmental applications,” said Wainwright. “We know other undiscovered species are present in these ecosystems. Unfortunately, if we do not look now we may miss our opportunity to benefit from them and conserve them.”

Deep reefs, like those in the ‘Au‘au channel, may act as a refuge as Earth’s climate changes, providing habitat for any marine creatures that can take advantage of this deeper habitat. If this is indeed the case, understanding how this habitat functions and how the corals, algae and fungi interact with one another will be vital to preserving the refuge in the deep.

City and County of Honolulu Donates Buses to Hawai’i County Mass Transit

Hawai’i County Mass Transit will soon take delivery of seven buses donated by the City and County of Honolulu, a much-needed boost to the Big Island’s beleaguered bus fleet.

The seven buses, built in 1997, have been retired from service on O‘ahu, but are still in working condition. According to a press release from Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office, similar buses have a typical lifespan of a million miles, and are still used in TheBus operations.

Pictured (left to right): Hawai‘i County Mass Transit Administrator Curtis Sharp, Mayor Caldwell, O‘ahu Transit Services General Manager Roger Morton, Honolulu Transportation Services Deputy Director Jon Nouchi.

Honolulu has regularly donated retired buses to Hawai’i, Maui and Kaua‘i Counties. The most recent donation to the Big Island was five buses in 2014. This year’s entire allotment of seven buses to the Neighbor Islands went to the Big Island due to its urgent needs.

The donated buses this time are expected to go into service here during the week of July 10.

Mass Transit consultant Curtis Sharp said that the donation was sorely-needed, with many of the HeleOn fleet sidelined. Five of the seven donated buses will replace five vehicles needing maintenance; repairs will proceed with an eye to getting a total of 10 buses on the road.

“We’re shooting for the end of July to have 10 buses running effectively,” Sharp said. “The two remaining donated buses will serve as back-ups.”

O‘ahu Transit Services maintenance personnel have kept thorough maintenance records of these vehicles and are turning over these records, preventative maintenance schedules, and service manuals to ensure Hele-On’s maintenance team a successful transition into their fleet.

“We sincerely appreciate the hand that Honolulu has offered us,” Sharp said. He thanked Young Brothers for waiving shipment charges for the buses.

Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Plan for Upgrading Power Grids Can Help Integrate More Private Rooftop Solar

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today submitted the draft of a plan to modernize its five island power grids to bring online more renewable resources, improve reliability and resilience and give customers more choices.

Click to view

Filed today with the Public Utilities Commission, the draft plan describes the scope and estimated cost to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light in the next six years, and how it will help the companies achieve a consolidated renewable portfolio standard of 48 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2045.

The draft plan also describes how new technology will help triple private rooftop solar, make use of rapidly evolving products – including storage and advanced inverters – and incorporate an array of sophisticated energy management tools, including demand response.

“Our grids were originally designed for one-way flow of electricity to customers from a handful of power plants,” said Colton Ching, senior vice president for planning and technology. “We can use advanced technology to transform these grids for two-way power flow from nearly 80,000 privately owned rooftop solar systems today and tens of thousands more in the future, along with thousands of energy storage systems that will be part of our grids by 2045.”

Much of the first phase of work would be aimed at adding sensors and control systems onto circuits where the high level of private rooftop solar can produce potentially damaging variations in voltage and limit addition of new systems.

The cost of the first segment of modernization is estimated at about $205 million over six years. The plan focuses on near-term improvements that provide the most immediate system and customer benefit but don’t crowd out future technological breakthroughs.

Highlights of this near-term work include:

  • Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, primarily for enhanced sensing and monitoring purposes, i.e., to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits; and customers who want to participate in programs such as demand response, variable rates or who seek usage data;
  • Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater private rooftop solar adoption;
  • Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources;
  • Expanded use of sensors and automated controls at substations and neighborhood circuits;
  • Expansion of a communication network giving system operators greater ability to “see” and efficiently coordinate distributed resources, along with smart devices placed on problematic circuits and automation for improved reliability;
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology

To develop this grid modernization strategy, the Hawaiian Electric Companies took a “clean sheet” approach, starting by talking with customers and community stakeholders across the state to determine what was important to them when considering energy delivery today and in the future.

The companies plan to meet with stakeholders and to hold public discussions of the grid modernization draft plan starting in July, with their input to be included in the final version of the plan to be submitted at the end of August.

The draft plan and related documents are available at www.hawaiianelectric.com/gridmod. Public comments on the plan can be submitted to gridmod@hawaiianelectric.com until Aug. 9, 2017.

NOAA and DLNR Ask People’s Cooperation to Keep Distance from Mother Seal and Pup on Waikiki Beach

Marine resource protection officials are asking the public’s cooperation to keep their distance and avoid disturbing a Hawaiian monk seal mother and her newborn pup on the popular Kaimana beach at Waikiki.

Some time overnight the female monk seal known as “Rocky” or RH58, gave birth to a seal at the far Diamond Head end of Kaimana beach. She had been seen frequenting that area in recent days. Volunteers from the Hawaii Marine Mammals Alliance Oahu group have set up a safety perimeter with ropes and signage to keep viewers a safe distance away to avoid disturbing the mother seal and her pup. It’s also important for human safety since a mother seal may charge anyone that gets too close on the beach or in the water that might be viewed as a threat.

Volunteers will keep watch in shifts and provide education and outreach information to beachgoers over the approximately 5 to 7 weeks while the pup is weaned and eventually able to forage for food on its own.

According to Angela Amlin, NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Program Coordinator, this is the 10th pup for RH58, but the first one to be born on Oahu. The other nine were born on Kauai. She said, “Our first concern is for human safety. People should stay behind the ropes on the beach and avoid swimming near the seals. It’s also important not to attempt to approach or interact with the seals, or try to feed them, which could habituate them to human contact and could lead to future problems.”

NOAA staff are contacting condominium and hotel managers, also Ocean Safety lifeguards in the vicinity for cooperation to mark off the area so the seals may rest undisturbed. Monk seals are protected under state and federal laws.

Kristen Kelly, DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources Marine Wildlife program assistant, says, “It is a really exciting event to have a pup born in such a popular and highly traveled area. It is also a concern for us here at DLNR. It is important to respect these animals especially a mother seal giving protective care to her pup. It is very important to give the pair space and respect in this vulnerable time. Take care to remain behind the barriers and head more to the ‘ewa side of the beach to enter and exit the water while the pair is here. Take special care in the water near the mother seal — there have been several instances of mothers protecting their pups from a perceived threat in the water, and attacking even if their baby is on shore. We advise staying out of the water on that side of the beach until the pair leaves. Try to remain at least 150 feet away in the water.”

She further adds, “We want people to enjoy viewing these special animals but please watch from a respectful distance! When observing these highly endangered species let’s do the right thing: take care and respect the seals, avoid sudden noise or any disturbance that could cause the mom to leave unexpectedly before she should. She needs to stay with the pup until it is ready to go out on its own. We also don’t want these wild animals to become conditioned to humans being nearby or trying to feed them. Please allow a respectful distance from seals so their pups can grow up naturally.”

VIEWING TIPS:

  • Please stay behind any ropes or fencing and follow instructions from personnel stationed on the beach.
  • Enjoy seeing and photographing these magnificent creatures from outside the safety perimeter, clearly marked by signs and ropes.
  • Hawaiian monk seals, even pups, are large powerful animals and can bite if they feel threatened. Keep a safe distance away.
  • Anyone who witnesses someone harassing or harming the seals may make a report to the DLNR Enforcement line at 643-DLNR (643-3567) or the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Hotline at 888-256-9840
  • In addition, harassing these mammals is against both federal and state law.  So please do your part to help our Hawaiian monk seals thrive and survive.

It’s becoming more common for monk seals to haul out on beaches popular with people. After a mother seal and her pup showed up just before Memorial Day 2017 on Mokulua North (Moku Nui) offshore islet, Kailua kayak rental companies began showing a DLNR-produced safety video to customers. Kayak renters are also asked to read a card that lists safe monk seal viewing protocols.

14 More Mumps Cases Reported – First Big Island Case Confirmed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed fourteen (14) more cases of residents with the mumps, raising the total number of cases this year to 133. Eleven (11) cases are on Oahu, two (2) are on Kauai and one (1) is on Hawaii Island, representing that island’s first confirmed mumps case this year.

The new cases involved eight (8) adults. None of the cases required hospitalization and all are recovering. DOH officials are investigating the new cases and expect the mumps virus to continue circulating across the state.

DOH urges those who are suspected or diagnosed with mumps to stay at home to avoid exposing others. According to Hawaii State Law, a person with mumps may not attend school, work or travel for nine (9) days after the start of swollen salivary glands.“We continue to see people with mumps being mobile in the community well after the onset of the illness and before they have been diagnosed,” said Dr. Park. “This increases the risk for introduction of the disease on other islands and areas of our state as well as continued spread on 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.

To prevent the spread of mumps in our community, persons exhibiting symptoms of the disease should contact their healthcare provider immediately. Additionally, everyone is asked to review their immunization records to ensure they are fully vaccinated.

All children should receive two doses of the MMR vaccine which protects against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The first dose is given at age 12–15 months and the second dose routinely at 4–6 years of age. However, due to the continued circulation of mumps in Hawaii, children between 1–4 years of age should receive their second dose now (a minimum of 4 weeks after the first dose).

All adults born in or after 1957, without evidence of immunity to mumps and who cannot verify previous MMR vaccination, should receive one MMR dose.

Individuals with only one documented MMR dose are strongly encouraged to consider receiving a second MMR vaccine dose. 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.

More 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 Education Opens Second Data Center

After seven years of progress towards upgrading its technology infrastructure, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) opened its second data center at Hoʻokele Elementary School earlier this month.  This marks an important milestone in HIDOE’s Converge Infrastructure initiative, which is focused on consolidating the information technology (IT) equipment and services in order to streamline management and support statewide.

The Hookele data center acts as a backup in case the primary fails and will eventually house disaster recovery services for HIDOE’s critical applications and systems.
Photo Credit: Department of Education

“Prior to the opening of these data centers, our IT equipment and services were scattered throughout various locations making management and recovery efforts difficult,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Thanks to the work done through this initiative and legislative support, we have consolidated and enhanced our resources to meet the increasing connectivity demands in our schools.”

Planning for the initiative started in 2010 with the department’s offices of Information Technology Services and School Facilities and Support Services. In Spring 2015, the first data center opened at the former Queen Liliʻuokalani Elementary School in Kaimukī, which now houses department facilities and technology offices. The center is the primary production site with the new center at Hoʻokele serving as the back up and recovery site.

“During the planning process we put a lot of effort into the design of these centers. We incorporated energy efficient strategies and leveraged software that will provide additional flexibility for our systems that will allow us to adjust based on varying demand through the year,” added Clyde Sonobe, assistant superintendent and chief information officer.

The Hoʻokele center will eventually house disaster recovery services for HIDOE’s critical applications and systems.

Earlier this year, HIDOE was recognized as the top ranked school district in K-12 broadband connectivity according to the 2016 State of the States annual report released by Education Superhighway, an advocacy group dedicated to upgrading Internet infrastructure in K-12 public schools. For more information about this award, click here.

AirAsia X Touches Down in Honolulu – Inaugural Flight Marks Successful Entry Into the U.S.

Flight D7 001 from long-haul low-cost carrier AirAsia X landed at Honolulu International Airport on June 28, marking the airline’s first foray into the US.

(PRNewsfoto/AirAsia X)

The four times weekly route departed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for Honolulu, Hawaii via Osaka, Japan.

The successful inaugural flight was followed by a celebration and press conference event at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, graced by State of Hawaii Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; Malaysian Ambassador to the US HE Tan Sri Dr Zulhasnan Rafique; Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO George D. Szigeti; AirAsia X Chairperson Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and AirAsia X CEO Benyamin Ismail.

AirAsia X Chairperson Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz said, “We are here to democratize air travel for everyone so flying long haul would no longer be a luxury only a few could enjoy. This landmark route to Hawaii is a bold new chapter in that quest to help more people travel farther for less. But this is just the beginning, and soon our guests will be able to enjoy flights to even more destinations in the US as we continue to grow our international footprint.”

Last week, AirAsia was named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline for the ninth straight years while AirAsia X won the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Cabin and Premium Seat awards for the fifth consecutive year at the Skytrax World Airline Awards held at the Paris Air Show.

“We are deeply honored AirAsia X has chosen Honolulu as its initial destination to expand service in the United States and appreciate how this route strengthens our ties with the people and culture of Malaysia,” said George D. Szigeti, President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “AirAsia X customers in Kuala Lumpur and Osaka will enjoy the convenience of this direct service and how it connects them with the welcoming aloha spirit of the Hawaiian culture, the spectacular natural beauty of our islands, and the diversity of Asia Pacific influences that enriches the experience of being in Hawaii.”

To celebrate the inaugural flight, AirAsia X will be offering one-way fares from as low as USD189* for a standard seat or USD799* for the award-winning Premium Flatbed from Honolulu to Kuala Lumpur; or USD149* for a standard seat or USD699* for the Premium Flatbed from Honolulu to Osaka. These promotional fares are available on airasia.com now through July 2 for travel between October 1, 2017 and August 28, 2018.

The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is known around the world for its iconic, modern skyline featuring the Petronas Twin Towers. The city is a major shopping haven for tourists and its multi-cultural culinary scene attracts visitors from across the globe. Outside the city limits, Kuala Lumpur serves as a gateway to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Melaka, just about two hour’s drive away from the airport. No matter what your interests, it all happens in Kuala Lumpur.

Osaka is Japan’s third largest city located in the Kansai region. A city that loves to eat, Osaka’s unofficial slogan is kuidaore. which literally means ‘eat until you drop.’ Takoyaki (octopus balls), Okonomiyaki (pan-fried batter cake), udon and other traditional Japanese culinary are some of the must-try food in Osaka. Visitor can stroll along the river at Dotombori and take a selfie with the famous Glico billboard, visit the majestic Osaka Castle, enjoy the thrills at Universal Studio Japan and many more.

* One-way all-in fare inclusive of taxes and fees. Terms and conditions apply.

Flight Schedule for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL) to Honolulu, Hawaii (HNL) via Osaka, Japan (KIX)

Note: All times listed are local unless otherwise stated.

Reptile Skin Grown in Lab for First Time, Helps Study Endangered Turtle Disease

Scientists, including Tina Weatherby with the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), published a study wherein they reconstructed the skin of endangered green turtles, marking the first time that skin of a non-mammal was successfully engineered in a laboratory. In turn, the scientists were able to grow a tumor-associated virus to better understand certain tumor diseases.

Green sea turtles are listed as threatened or endangered. Credit: Thierry Work, USGS.

In an international collaboration led by the U.S. Geological Survey, scientists engineered turtle skin in order to grow a virus called chelonid herpesvirus 5 or ChHV5. ChHV5 is associated with fibropapillomatosis, known as FP, a tumor disease affecting green turtles worldwide but particularly those in Hawai‘i, Florida and Brazil. FP in turtles causes disfiguring tumors on the skin, eyes and mouth as well as internal tumors. The virus also harms turtles’ immune systems, leading to secondary infections, emaciation and often death.

Examining how ChHV5 grows in turtle skin brings researchers closer to fighting viral diseases that threaten imperiled species.

“Fibropapillomatosis is the most common infectious disease affecting endangered green turtles,” said Thierry Work, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the study. “Our findings provide a significant advancement in studying FP, and may eventually help scientists better understand other herpes virus-induced tumor diseases, including those of humans.”

Scientists used cells from tumors and normal skin from turtles to reconstruct the complex three-dimensional structure of turtle skin, allowing growth of ChHV5 in the lab. In order to observe virus replication in unprecedented detail, Weatherby, a research associate at the UHM SOEST Pacific Biosciences Research Center, precisely cut ultrathin slices of the skin to a thickness of about 60 to 80 nanometers or about one thousandths of the thickness of a hair. Viewing these slices through a transmission electron microscope, the only one of its kind in the state used for biological studies, revealed bizarre systems such as sun-shaped virus replication centers where the viruses form within cells.

Although the existence of ChHV5 has been known for more than 20 years, the inability to grow the virus in the laboratory hampered understanding of how it causes tumors and the development of blood tests to detect the virus.

“Examining viruses within the complex three-dimensional structure of engineered skin is exciting, because virus replication in such a system is likely much closer to reality than traditional laboratory techniques,” Work said. “This method could be a powerful tool for answering broader questions about virus-induced tumors in reptiles and herpes virus replication in general.”

The U.S Endangered Species Act and International Union for the Conservation of Nature list sea turtles as threatened or endangered throughout their range. Aside from disease, threats to green turtles include loss of nesting habitat, nest destruction and bycatch in commercial fisheries.

The USGS partnered with the University of Hawai‘i, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Zurich on the new study.

For more information about wildlife disease research, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website.

Firehose Activity Briefly Returns at the Kamokuna Ocean Entry

On Sunday, June 25 between 11:39 and 11:44 HST, firehose activity started at the ocean entry and continued for less than 10 minutes. A USGS time-lapse camera, which takes a photo every 5 minutes, captured this image at 11:44 and by 11:49 the firehose was replaced by a lava channel on the delta.

The cause of the short-lived firehose activity was not visible from the time-lapse camera, but was likely the result of a failure of the 61g tube casing where it exits the old sea cliff.

This photo from June 25 shows the established lava channel at 6:49 pm HST, hours after the firehose activity.

On June 26 HVO observers did not see any active surface breakouts on the delta and the channel has tubed over, but some narrow streams of lava were spilling into the ocean. The delta had lost some small chunks, but there was no evidence seen of a large-scale delta collapse.

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Found in Pearl City Peninsula

Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) survey crews from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) have detected an infestation of the plant-damaging beetles in small mulch piles on a farm located on Waiawa Road on the Pearl City Peninsula. This is north of the previously known infestation zone which involved mainly military property. Because this is in a residential and agricultural area, HDOA is asking the cooperation of property owners to allow CRB response crews to enter their properties to survey for the beetle, which destroys palm trees and other plants.

The new infestation was found during routine surveillance activities by the CRB team. That particular area was surveyed in April 2017 and a cursory survey on June 19th found a few larvae in a mulch pile. CRB crews were immediately dispatched to the area to conduct a more extensive search. Since then, about 206 larvae and two male adult CRB have been found in three small areas. HDOA entomologists estimate that, given the developmental age of the beetles found, it is likely the eggs were laid in April. Additional barrel traps were deployed to attract CRB in the area and more extensive surveys are already occurring.

CRB crews report that area farmers and residents have generally been cooperative with the surveys so far; but crews request continued access to check their mulch piles and other green waste.

Traps

“We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for residents to allow our crews to survey their yards if we have any hope to control the spread of this serious pest,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “As evidenced in the past, the cooperation of residents is key to the success of eradication and control efforts.”

Due to the new detections, HDOA is expanding the survey areas from the H-1 freeway south to the Pearl Harbor Bike Path and between Lehua Ave. and Leeward Community College.

CRB boring damage

CRB response crews will be clearly identified with HDOA-issued badges and in marked state  vehicles. If residents have any question about survey crews in their area, they should contact the CRB Response Headquarters at 832-0585.

Currently there are 3,079 CRB traps deployed and maintained all over Oahu. The traps, which contain a CRB-attracting pheromone, are designed for early detection of the pest.

The CRB was first detected on Oahu in December 2014 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam. So far, CRB has not been detected on other islands.

Adult CRB are dark brown in color and measure 1 ¼ to 2 ½ inches long. CRB larvae are white in color with a brown head and up to three inches long.

CRB Larvae

CRB are capable of killing all palm species and have been found to attack banana, taro, pineapple and sugarcane. The grubs live exclusively in decaying plant material such as green waste, mulch, compost and manure. Residents on the entire island of Oahu are urged not to move any green waste or mulch from any location as CRB do not move long distances on its own, but may be transported by humans. Oahu residents are also asked to inspect their mulch piles periodically for CRB larvae and adults.

Currently, the CRB team involves 27 staff which conducts surveys throughout Oahu. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) and HDOA.

Headquartered at HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch, the team includes personnel from several agencies, including USDA, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, Hawaii National Guard, HISC, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the University of Hawaii – College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

For more information, go to HDOA’s CRB Information webpage: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/main/crb/

Hawaii Department of Education Announces Transition Centers Initiative in Honor of Late Congressman K. Mark Takai

In partnership with Hawaii 3Rs and the Military Affairs Council, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced today an effort to develop high-quality transition centers for Hawaii public schools. The effort is in honor of late Congressman K. Mark Takai, who was a staunch advocate for Hawaii’s students and supporter of military-dependent students throughout his career.

Takai Transition Center partners and Kailua Intermediate AVID students announce the new HIDOE initiative. Photo Credit: Department of Education

School Transition Centers provide a safe and stable foundation for all students, particularly newly arrived military-dependent students, offering peer-to-peer mentoring to help students acclimate into their school community.

“Transition Centers provide tremendous support to new students as well as instilling leadership skills for student mentors,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’re grateful for this partnership that allows us to not only expand this program, but fulfill one of our goals in our Strategic Plan in helping as many students and families as possible.”

HIDOE will commit $250,000 annually for four years using federal Impact Aid funds towards school Transition Center facility improvements, technology, furnishings and special events.  Program partners at the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council and the Hawaii Business Roundtable will provide matching funds each year to be managed by the Hawaii 3Rs Special Fund.

“Hawaii 3R’s is pleased to partner with the Hawaii Department of Education to develop transition centers that will help students assimilate into an unfamiliar environment,” said Hawaii 3Rs Board Chairman Alan Oshima. “By easing them into the rhythm of a new school and campus, learning can become the priority.”

U.S. Rep. Takai’s conscientious work was essential in securing tens of millions in federal Impact Aid funding every year that goes to all public schools

“In working on this initiative there was no question that the effort would be in honor of our friend Mark Takai who was fiercely committed to public education and his service to our nation,” added Superintendent Matayoshi.

“Transition Centers provide tremendous support to new students as well as instilling leadership skills for student mentors,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. Photo Credit: Department of Education

Transition Centers are rooted at public schools with higher populations of military-dependent students, such as Radford High, Leilehua High, Mokapu Elementary and many more.  The success of these Transition Centers will be expanded to serve more students at other schools across the state.

Future transition centers that benefit from this effort will be known as a “Takai Transition Center” and will feature the following pledge.

Future transition centers that benefit from this effort will be known as a “Takai Transition Center” and will feature a pledge welcoming all transitioning students and recognizing military-connected students and their families. Photo Credit: Department of Education

As a member of the K. Mark Takai Transition Center Network, we:

  • Understand the challenges that are an inherent part of matriculating into a new and unfamiliar school environment;
  • Welcome all students transitioning into our school, including military-connected students, and will support and sustain them throughout their time in our school community;
  • Recognize and honor our military personnel for the contributions and sacrifices they make for our defense and the preservation of our rights, and the sacrifices of our military families to support them;
  • Value the added richness and experience that students from varied cultural and social backgrounds bring to our school community; and
  • Commit to providing high-quality supports through dedicated resources via the establishment and sustained operation of a transition center on our school campus.

Schools interested in establishing a new Transition Center or upgrading existing Transition Center facilities should contact HIDOE Military Liaison Cherry Okahara at cherry_okahara@hawaiidoe.org.

McDonald’s of Hawaii to Start Serving Lobster Rolls for a Limited Time

McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii is giving lobster lovers a reason to celebrate. Starting June 28, McDonald’s of Hawaii will be selling the popular Lobster Roll in stores for a limited time. The Lobster Roll is made with 100 percent real North Atlantic lobster, mixed with mayonnaise dressing, and served atop crisp leaf and shredded lettuce on a buttered, toasted roll. A huge hit on the East Coast, McDonald’s of Hawaii is confident local residents will also enjoy the tasty sandwich.

“Hawaii residents are seafood lovers, so when the opportunity to bring the Lobster Roll to Hawaii arose, we knew we had to get onboard,” said Miles Ichinose, McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii owner/operator. “This is the first time in our company’s 49-year history of doing business in Hawaii that we will be serving the Lobster Roll and we look forward to sharing this unique sandwich with our customers.”

This summertime special is priced at $9.99 at participating restaurants and will only be here for a limited time, through the end of July or while supplies last. Each Lobster Roll is 290 calories and made with 100 percent all-natural lobster meat, with no additives or preservatives.

“Our lobster meat is a quality artisan product caught by veteran lobster fishermen, and is similar to what you would find at top seafood restaurants around the world,” said Ichinose. “We are constantly listening to what our customers are requesting and then responding by introducing unique quality menu items. We are confident the Lobster Roll will meet their expectations.”

To celebrate the launch of the Lobster Roll, McDonald’s of Hawaii will be hosting a social media contest that will begin at 8 a.m. on July 4. Customers can enter the contest on Facebook or Twitter by simply snapping a photo of themselves eating a Lobster Roll at McDonald’s. The first 10 customers who share their selfies on Facebook and Twitter will win a Lobster Roll prize pack (valued at $30) when they use the hashtags #LovinLobsterRollHawaii and #Sweepstakes. Winners will be notified by 5 p.m. on July 10, 2017. They will have seven days, until July 17, 2017 at 5 p.m., to claim their prize. For official rules and store information, please visit any of our 74 McDonald’s of Hawaii Facebook pages, our McDonald’s of Hawaii Twitter account, or: goo.gl/M9nt9Y.

Hawaii DLNR Enforcement Division Launches New DLNRTip App

Last weekend a man sent DLNR Chair Suzanne Case photographs of two hammerhead sharks, left dead near the He‘eia Small Boat Harbor on Windward O‘ahu.  It’s impossible to determine how they died.  Were they hooked and discarded?  Were they caught up in a net?  Did someone kill them illegally?  This is exactly the kind of situation the DLNR hopes people will report immediately using its new DLNRTip app.

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) launched the new app to help people connect directly with conservation officers, view alerts, and submit anonymous tips from smartphones. It is an important extension of the agencies DLNR & You brand.

Developed by tip411, the DLNRTip app is an innovative program that encourages people to provide DOCARE with factual information leading to the arrest of anyone who poaches or harasses protected wildlife species, pollutes, or violates any State conservation resources rules.  1400 communities around the country are currently using the application developed by and managed by tip411. DLNRTip is available for download for free via the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, or by visiting the DOCARE website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/docare.

“Our stated mission is to serve to protect, conserve and manage Hawaiʻi’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawai’i nei,” said Robert Farrell, DOCARE Enforcement Chief. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “We think DLNRtip is a natural extension of the DLNR & You brand and furthers our belief that we can’t protect our state’s natural and cultural resources without the thousands of eyes and ears of concerned citizens who can serve as proxies for DOCARE officers who clearly cannot be everywhere, all the time. DLNRTip will better connect our officers to people and expedite receipt of tips of wrongdoing and our subsequent responses.”

“We’re proud to partner with agencies like DLNR/DOCARE to help better connect members of the public with law enforcement to share information,” said tip411 President Terry Halsch.  “DLNRTip powered by tip411Mobile will greatly improve the public’s access to agency alerts, social media channels, important information, and more, to help protect natural and cultural resources in Hawai‘i.”

The DLNRTip app and tip411 are completely anonymous, as the technology removes all identifying information before officers see tips so there is no way to identify senders. People without a smartphone will be able to send an anonymous text tip via their cell phone to DOCARE by texting keyword DLNRTIP and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411).  Anonymous web tips can also be submitted through the DOCARE website noted above.  DOCARE will also continue to take calls and tips on its Statewide Hotline, 643-DLNR or 643-3567

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.”