VIDEO – USGS Geologist Takes Lava Sample from Lava Tube Skylight

USGS geologist Rick Hoblitt describes taking a lava sample from a lava tube skylight.

Rick Hoblitt

This work took place downslope from Pu’u ‘O’ o vent on Kilauea Volcano, Island of Hawai’i in 2002. As of 2013 the eruption continues and sampling is done every few weeks.

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UnitedHealthcare Awards $250,000 Grant to Support Hilo Medical Center – Money to Enhance Primary Care Services for East Hawaii Residents

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, has awarded a $250,000 grant to support Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program (HHSC PCTP) to help enhance primary care services for East Hawaii residents, including members of the United States military and their families.

Hilo Medical Center Check

The grant will help provide funding to establish Hilo Medical Center’s HHSC PCTP where family medicine residents will train at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center and provide valuable primary care services to local children, adults and families.

In this August 19, 2013 photo provided by UnitedHealthcare Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, left, Mike Middlesworth, left center, East Hawaii Regional Board Member, Tony Welters, center, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, look on as Dr. Kristine McCoy Director of the Hawaii Health Sustems Corporation Primary Care Training Program, gives tour of the Hawaii Island Family Health Center. UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, has awarded a $250,000 grant to support Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program (HHSC PCTP). The program is to help enhance primary care services for East Hawaii residents, including members of the United States military and their families on the island of Hawaii. Photo Courtesy UnitedHealthcare

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, left, Mike Middlesworth, left center, East Hawaii Regional Board Member, Tony Welters, center, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, look on as Dr. Kristine McCoy Director of the Hawaii Health Sustems Corporation Primary Care Training Program, gives tour of the Hawaii Island Family Health Center. UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group company, has awarded a $250,000 grant to support Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program (HHSC PCTP). The program is to help enhance primary care services for East Hawaii residents, including members of the United States military and their families on the island of Hawaii. Photo Courtesy UnitedHealthcare

This unique, interdisciplinary program is in collaboration with University of Hawaii at Hilo’s School of Nursing, The Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. The program was conceived as a way to increase access to quality primary care while training the next generation of physicians in Hawaii.

“Hawaii faces a dire shortage of physicians, so we are honored to have the opportunity to work with Hilo Medical Center’s HHSC PCTP to help fill that need,” said Ronald Fujimoto, M.D., chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare of Hawaii.

The grant announcement and check presentation were made today at the Hawaii Island Family Health Center in Hilo during a reception that included Gov. Neil Abercrombie, UnitedHealth Group leaders including Executive Vice President Anthony Welters, and community leaders.

 Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie spoke about the importance of health care in rural areas as Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Mateczun, left, and Tony Welters, left center, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, look on. UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, has awarded a $250,000 grant to support Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program (HHSC PCTP). The program is to help enhance primary care services for East Hawaii residents, including members of the United States military and their families on the island of Hawaii. Photo Courtesy UnitedHealthcare

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie spoke about the importance of health care in rural areas as Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Mateczun, left, and Tony Welters, left center, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, look on.

“The collaboration among the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program, Hilo Medical Center and its educational partners provides critical care for our local residents and families on the Big Island,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “The UnitedHealthcare grant is part of a public and private partnership that will greatly improve our local health care system, especially in rural, underserved areas.”

According to the “Hawai’i Physician Workforce Assessment Project” report, the Big Island saw a 34 percent physician shortage in 2012 – the estimated number of physician care hours delivered compared to the hours of care in demand. Statewide, the shortage was 18 percent. The report concluded the physician shortages were especially acute in the area of primary care, making Hilo Medical Center’s HHSC PCTP an important asset for Hawaii’s health and well-being.

Tony Welters, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, left, Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Mateczun, left center, present a check for $250,000 to Howard Ainsley, left center, East Hawaii Region CEO of Hilo Medical Center, as Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, right, applauds. UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, has awarded a $250,000 grant to support Hilo Medical Center’s Hawaii Health Systems Corporation Primary Care Training Program (HHSC PCTP). The program is to help enhance primary care services for East Hawaii residents, including members of the United States military and their families on the island of Hawaii. Photo Courtesy UnitedHealthcare

Tony Welters, Executive Vice President, UnitedHealth Group, left, Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Mateczun, left center, present a check for $250,000 to Howard Ainsley, left center, East Hawaii Region CEO of Hilo Medical Center, as Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, right, applauds. Photo Courtesy UnitedHealthcare

“We truly appreciate UnitedHealthcare’s funding of this grant to support our primary care training program.  This is a tremendous shot in the arm in helping establish this vital program for our community.  In time we hope these physicians will remain on the Big Island and throughout Hawaii,” said Howard Ainsley, East Hawaii Regional CEO at Hilo Medical Center.

UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) company, has more than 200 employees located on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island with central offices in Honolulu. With a care provider network of 21 hospitals and more than 2,700 physicians statewide, the health and well-being company serves more than 230,000 Hawaii residents including members of the United States military and their families, and people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare and Medicaid health plans.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

More Hawaii Public Schools Students Graduating on Time and Enrolling in College

More Hawaii public school students are graduating on time and enrolling in college, according to a new state report card. The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today released its first annual Strive HI Performance System results, which provide a comprehensive picture of the health of the islands’ schools. The figures are based on data from the 2012-13 school year.
DOE Release“We are extremely pleased to see significant improvements statewide on key college-and career-readiness indicators as we set a higher bar for students, teachers, as well as ourselves as educational leaders,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The new Strive HI Performance System allows us to do a much better job of measuring, understanding and supporting school progress. The results are very encouraging and a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers.”

Notable Strive HI results include:

  • Hawaii’s public schools have narrowed the achievement gap by 12 percent over the past two years. The gap measures the performance of “high-needs students” (those who have a disability, language barriers, or low family income) compared to the achievement of other students.
  • A majority of the state’s lowest-performing schools made tremendous growth after receiving targeted supports in “Zones of School Innovation.”
  • Of the state’s 14 top-performing schools, more than half (9) are Title I schools, meaning they overcame challenges associated with serving a large number of disadvantaged children from low-income families.
  • The on-time graduation rate (83 percent) and college enrollment rate (63 percent) continue to steadily rise over time.
  • Reading and math proficiency improved slightly. The percentage of students proficient in reading rose to 72 percent, from 71 percent a year ago, while math proficiency reached 60 percent from 59 percent.

Hawaii educators, parents, community groups and higher education stakeholders informed the development of the new Strive HI Performance System, which evaluates all 285 public schools, including charter schools. The system is designed to ensure all students graduate college-and career-ready by analyzing multiple achievement measures and offering tailored rewards, supports and interventions to schools.

The 2013 Strive HI Index List of Schools can be found under “Related Downloads” at http://bit.ly/StriveHISystem

Strive HI Performance System Background

In May, the federal government approved Hawaii’s Strive HI Performance System to replace outdated aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and align transformation initiatives with the Hawaii State Board and Department of Education Strategic Plan.

Under NCLB, schools were graded on whether students met escalating annual reading and math benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. In that system, AYP status was a single indicator and crude instrument that led directly to a series of strict, escalating consequences.

In contrast, the Strive HI Performance System will serve as more of a diagnostic tool to understand a school’s performance and progress on multiple, research-based indicators, including reading, math and science scores, achievement growth and gaps, chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, college readiness and enrollment.

“By valuing more than just test scores, we are taking a comprehensive look at the successes and challenges of schools,” said Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. “This wealth of data will allow educators, school leaders, parents and the community to have meaningful conversations about what is working and where they need to improve to prepare all students for college and careers.”

Based on their performance, schools are classified in one of five Strive HI Steps, each carrying varying degrees of rewards, supports and interventions to meet individual school needs. From highest to lowest, the steps include Recognition, Continuous Improvement, Focus, Priority and Superintendent’s Zone.

The positive results come as Hawaii’s educators are in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform the state’s public education system, including a joint BOE/DOE Strategic Plan, Common Core State Standards, college-readiness assessments, more rigorous diploma requirements, and robust teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

They also follow last month’s decision by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to lift high-risk status from the state’s federal Race to the top (RTTT) grant, noting “significant progress.”

A hallmark of the RTTT grant were “Zones of School Innovation (ZSI),” which targeted support for struggling schools in rural or remote, hard-to-staff areas serving the largest population of native Hawaiian and economically-disadvantaged students in the state. In all, 15 of the 18 ZSI schools (located in Nanakuli and Waianae on Oahu, and Kau, Keaau and Pahoa on the Hawaii Island) are now in “Continuous Improvement” status, meaning they no longer need intense interventions.

“The results from the Zones schools demonstrate that our commitment to high expectations, our strategic priorities and our collective belief that all students can achieve is paying off,” said Mary Correa, complex area superintendent for Kau, Keaau and Pahoa. “I’m excited with our progress, and we look forward to build on our success.”

Successful data-driven strategies that proved to be instrumental in turning around ZSI schools are being deployed statewide. Lessons learned through the ZSI initiative helped establish the foundation for the development of the Strive HI Performance System. More information can be found at HawaiiPublicSchools.org.

Schools that made extraordinary achievements will be recognized during the annual Strive HI Awards event this fall.

To view a school’s rank, follow these simple steps:

Visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org and click on “Find Schools”
Type in the school in “Find by school name”
Click “Show Results”

The school will then show up
Click “Read More”
Under Reports – Click on to the Strive HI Performance System School Report

For charter school reports, visit our charter school page at

 

Gov. Abercrombie Speaks at UH Hilo Hale Alahonua University Village Phase I Student Housing Grand Opening

This morning, Governor Abercrombie offered remarks at the UH Hilo Hale Alahonua University Village Phase I Student Housing grand opening.

Abercrombie at UHH
“A university has to have the facilities to attract people and show its commitment to excellence.”

Abercrombie New dorms

Hale Alahonua fulfills the need for more on-campus housing by providing approximately 300 additional beds in suite-style residence halls.

Abercrombie at UHH Greggor

Some students base their decision to attend on whether they can find on-campus housing. In addition, research shows students who live on campus have better academic success and retention rates.

Victims in Hilo House Fire Identified

The two victims of a fatal fire in Hilo early Thursday (August 15) have been identified through dental records as 67-year-old William Hachmeister and 60-year-old Dixeen Sakamoto, both of Hilo.

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An autopsy conducted Friday (August 16) also determined that both victims died of toxic carbon monoxide inhalation due to house fire.

The fire at a home on Wainaku Avenue was reported at 1:08 a.m. Thursday. After firefighters extinguished the flames, the two bodies were discovered in the rubble.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 

Hawaii Launches Initiative to Cut Juvenile Crime, Expenditures

Effort Targets $190,000 Annual Cost of Commitment Placements

On Friday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Sen. President Donna Mercado Kim, and Rep. Mele Carroll (on behalf of Speaker Joseph Souki)  announced the launch of a new effort to increase public safety and hold juvenile offenders accountable for their actions, while reducing costs to Hawaii taxpayers. A new bipartisan, inter-branch working group will analyze the state’s juvenile justice system and develop data-driven policy recommendations for the 2014 Legislature.

Juvenile Program

“It costs a tremendous amount of money to put juvenile offenders into state custody,” said Gov. Abercrombie “We need to take a hard look at our data, find better outcomes, and identify more cost effective ways to handle our juvenile offenders.”

Many of the youth suffer from substance abuse addiction, mental health issues and family dysfunction. A significant number are in custody due to the lack of accessible treatment services and programs, especially on the neighbor islands. Each commitment placement costs taxpayers more than $190,000 per year, per youth (averaging 60 youth per year). Despite this substantial cost, the majority juvenile offenders who exit the state’s correctional facilities reoffend and return within three years.

Juvenile Program 3

“With the amount of money we spend locking up each juvenile offender and the high recidivism rates, it is clear we are not getting an adequate public safety return on our juvenile justice investment,” said Rep. Mele Carroll, chair of the House Human Services committee. “We must focus our correctional resources on serious offenders who pose a public safety risk and we must stop the cycle of recidivism for youth who want to turn their lives around. We must also do a better job for our youth on the neighbor islands who are being sent to Honolulu due to a lack of resources in the other counties.”

Last year, Hawaii enacted comprehensive criminal justice legislation with the goal of improving public safety while keeping costs in check. Act 139 (SB2776) and Act 140 (HB2515) were designed to lower recidivism, increase efficiency in the adult criminal justice system, and hold offenders accountable to victims for their crimes.

Juvenile Program 2

The new laws have already shown encouraging results, including a 5 percent drop in the prison population. Building on the success of this effort, known as the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), Hawaii will use the same data-driven and evidence-based process to analyze the juvenile justice system and further maximize its public safety investments.

The working group is composed of policymakers, practitioners and stakeholders. The group will study Hawaii’s data, review evidence about what works in juvenile justice, and develop policy options to improve outcomes and reduce costs. State leaders have charged the working group with issuing a consensus report to all three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) this December that will include research findings and specific policy recommendations.

“The reform package we enacted last year shows that we can get more public safety at a lower cost,” said Sen. President Kim. “By relying on Hawaii’s data and the latest national research about what works in juvenile corrections, we will be able to develop more effective, less costly alternatives to our juvenile correctional facility.”

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“There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all approach to juvenile justice,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald. “Each island should be able to count on their juvenile justice system to be responsive, targeted, and effective. This process will allow us to ensure that we develop fiscally sound juvenile justice policies that will make our state safer and our system work better for youth and their families.”

The working group will receive intensive technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project. Pew and its partners have provided similar assistance to more than two dozen states, including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.