Month: September 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Board Selects Kaiser as Maui Hospital Partner

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BREAKING: Board Selects Kaiser as Maui Hospital Partner

Updated September 24, 2015, 06:11 AM HST

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The Hawaiʻi Health Systems Corporation’s Maui Regional System Board today announced the selection of Kaiser Permanente as its choice to operate its facilities under a planned partnership.

In May Kaiser Permanente expressed interest in participating in the process for selection as Maui Memorial Medical Center sought a management company for a public private partnership.

A bill aimed at setting the groundwork for a public-private partnership passed into law this past legislative session as the hospital administration sought protections from potential job and service cuts due to a $28 million budget shortfall.

House Bill 1075 was singed into law in June, authorizing the Maui Region of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation to enter into negotiations for a public-private operational and management agreement.

HHSC’s Maui Region facilities – which include Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital – were authorized to transfer operations to a new entity through the bill, which became Act 103 upon the governor’s signing.

“As a board, we were grateful for the opportunity to talk to staff, physicians, and our friends and neighbors about what kind of healthcare model we want moving forward,” said Avery Chumbley, Maui Regional System Board Chair in a press release announcement this morning. “Kaiser Permanente provided us with its vision and strategy for improved healthcare in the Maui Region. We felt Kaiser Permanente could best serve the needs of our community,” said Chumbley.

According to the board announcement, “once negotiations are complete and a definitive agreement is executed, Kaiser Permanente will become the new operator of the Maui Region facilities.  The Maui Regional System Board will serve as the custodial caretaker of the property with oversight over the performance of the terms and conditions of the lease.”

“We have a responsibility to meet the healthcare needs of our community, and we believe this transition provides us the greatest path forward to continue doing this,” said Wesley Lo, CEO of HHSC Maui Region in a statement.  “Act 103 was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication from our staff, physicians, past and current board members, and local leaders – our community will be better served thanks to their vision and determination.”

Image courtesy Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi.

Among those expressing concern with the selection was Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Tsutsui said that if the community’s concerns and questions are not adequately addressed, he urged the Governor to consider halting negotiations if necessary, and committing to emergency funds need to keep the hospitals running until a “proper deal” can be negotiated.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa responded to the news by releasing a statement saying, “The Maui Regional System Board has made its selection and I am
confident that it was in the best interests of everyone in Maui
County.”

“Their main goal is to get our primary medical care facility on stable financial footing so that Maui Memorial may better serve this community. That’s why we all fought so hard to push this private-public partnership through at the state legislature. Kaiser has been a good health care provider here on Maui and I am certain they will do a fine job managing our hospital,” said Mayor Arakawa.

Representatives with Kaiser Permanente released a statement following the announcement saying, they are “excited and honored” to be selected.”

“We are looking forward to successful contract negotiations. We want to thank the community groups, health providers, local businesses, and the Maui Memorial Medical Center physicians and staff who have worked alongside us for 46 years with a shared commitment to providing quality, affordable care on Maui. We look forward to our continued collaboration to ensure a healthy future for the Maui Region,” representatives said in the Kaiser statement.

In a letter to legislators earlier this year, Kaiser representatives said, “We view our long-established presence on the island, coupled with our dedication to exceptional patient-centered medicine, as key factors in ensuring a robust partnership that creates a meaningful and positive impact on the health of the entire community.”

The Maui Region of the HHSC, which includes Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital, serves more than 11,000 inpatients and sees over 45,000 people in the emergency room each year.  There are currently 1,500 individuals employed at Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is the only full-service, acute-care medical facility in the county.

Kaiser Permanente was founded in 1945, and currently serves more than 10 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia.  Here in Hawaiʻi, Kaiser Permanente serves more than 243,000 people in Hawaii, including over 55,000 on Maui.

The partnership would be subject to approval by the Governor, the HHSC and the Maui region Board of Directors.

USDA Press Release: USDA Helps Reduce High Energy Costs in Remote Rural Areas

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Header Press Release
Release No. 0256.15
Contact:
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384
USDA Helps Reduce High Energy Costs in Remote Rural Areas
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today awarded nine grants to help reduce energy costs for residents in remote rural areas where the cost of producing electricity is extremely high.
“These grants will help deliver energy more cost-effectively and will help the environment,” Vilsack said. “Providing this funding is one of many ways that USDA helps grow the rural economy. When businesses and families spend less on fuel and electricity, they have more money to invest in the local economy. This helps create jobs and benefits entire communities.”
USDA is providing $7.9 million through the High Energy Cost Grant program, which is administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. Vilsack also noted that energy conservation, through programs like this, helps improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels.
High Energy Cost Grants may be used to improve energy generation, transmission or distribution facilities in communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average. Grants are available to businesses, non-profit groups, states, local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes.
Funding for each grant is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. The grantees are:
Alaska
  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $426,916 to retrofit sanitation systems and train operators in the eight communities of Napaskiak, Nunapitchuk, Chefornak, Nightmute, Tuntutuliak, Newtok, Teller and Tununak. These communities have no road access, high energy costs and struggling economies. The project will increase energy efficiency by upgrading interior and exterior lighting; installing new controls for heating systems and laundry services, new controls for water storage and pumping; and making weatherization improvements.
  • Puvurnaq Power Company – $857,920 to integrate a 200 kilowatt lithium ion-based battery energy storage system into the wind-diesel power system in Kongiganak, Alaska. This project will lower fuel consumption by up to 20,000 gallons per year and save the the community about $92,000 annually.
  • Ipnatchiaq Electric Utility – $175,071 to 1) bring electricians to Deering for five weeks; 2) replace three deteriorated poles; 3) replace insulator caps; 4) repair the distribution system and 5) train staff at the utility to operate and maintain the system. The Ipnatchiaq Electric Utility is in Deering, Alaska, on the Kotzebue Sound at the mouth of the Immachuk River, 57 miles southwest of Kotzebue. The 122 residents are predominantly Alaska Native (Inupiat Eskimo).
Arizona
  • Hualapai Tribe – $1,881,130 to build an electrical transmission line from Grand Canyon West to a substation operated by UniSource Energy Services. The project will reduce the cost of electricity from 46 cents per kilowatt hour to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. Lowering energy costs will make housing more affordable for workers who commute to Grand Canyon West.
Hawaii
  • Switching Gears, LLC – $500,000 to install three 110 kilowatt wind turbines in the North Kohala District on the big island of Hawaii. The turbines will lower the overall cost for electricity in this community.
  • Heritage Ranch, Inc. – $896,450 to provide equipment and technical assistance for a solar energy network that will serve 255 native Hawaiian in Milolii, in a remote southwest corner of the big island of Hawaii. The community is one of a few traditional fishing villages in Hawaii. It has no utility-provided electricity and no potable water. Residents pay high rates to have fuel and water delivered. This project will provide solar power for electricity, refrigeration and cooking, and a solar distillation kit to procure safe drinking water.
Northern Mariana Islands
  • Commonwealth Utilities Corporation – $382,000 to improve the power distribution grid by replacing 63 pole-mounted electric transformers. The project also will create a more efficient power grid.
  • Pacific Wind and Solar, LLC – $1,359,489 to install a 3.0 kW kilowatt solar panel array at the homes of households assisted by the Northern Marianas Housing Corporation on Saipan. Each home will have twelve, 250W commercial-grade solar panels.
South Dakota
  • Sacred Power LLC – $1,406,975 to install wind turbines that will provide energy at homes in the St. Francis community within the Rosebud Sioux. Each household system will include a 1.8 kilowatt Pika T701 wind turbine, and one Pika X3001 inverter to condition the power for the grid.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has provided 52 grants totaling $64 million benefitting communities burdened by high fuel costs in 12 states, two U.S. territories and two areas of the Western Pacific.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
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Women’s Health Month – Domestic Violence Action Center

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September with the Dreamers … Domestic Violence Action Center

 

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Summer is over. Well, it’s still hot. But the calendar tells us we are into the new school year and all that it brings. With or without kids, we are all impacted by the beginning of private, public and university classes!

September is also Women’s Health Month. This gives us the opportunity to highlight the importance of taking good care of our bodies, recognizing the value of good health and renewing our commitments to a healthy lifestyle. Safe relationships are included in that formula.

The correlation between partner violence and adverse health outcomes is strong and persuasive. The costs of health care are astronomical on a good day; if you are suffering harm from abuse, your costs are higher, as your need for health care is increased. Ourhealth care system has a key role to play in addressing domestic violence; a visit to your doctor, or a health care setting creates an opportunity to disclose your danger, receive support, obtain referrals, and consider your options in a safe place. The Centers for Disease Control reported that the average cost of health care services exceeds twice the average cost for men; the higher cost is “largely due” to the costs and impact of domestic violence.” Group Health researchers (WA) found that for survivors, health care costs average $585 per year higher than normal during the period of abuse; their health care costs rise to more than $1,200 year above non-abused women for the first two years after abuse and $444 after the third year. It is important to understand that harm occurs, too often, after partners separate. It’s also possible that victims cannot access health care services that they should be receiving when they they are with a controlling or abusive partner. Amy Bonomi, Ohio State University, co-author of the study asserts that the results suggest domestic abuse acts on health care costs much like chronic health conditions (consistent with what is found with people who quit smoking or abusing alcohol or drugs).

A study found that domestic violence results in more emergency room visits and inpatient hospitalizations, including greater use of physician services [1]. The U.S. Department of Justice finds that 37% of women admitted to emergency rooms for care for violence related injuries were injured by a current or former intimate partner. The CDC examining costs from the 700,000 reported incidents of domestic violence in America in 2001 placed the annual estimated direct health care cost associated with domestic violence at around $4.8 billion.

Dr. Willie Parker

DVAC has been partnered with Queen’s Medical Center to bring practitioner and patient education to the health care setting and adjusting policy to improve screening and provide information routinely. In the first week of September (2015), DVAC staff were treated to an in-service session with Dr. Willie Parker, a former Queen’s doctor (and former member of the DVAC Board of Directors), who is enjoying a Visiting Professor stint at John A. Burns School of Medicine; he reinforced the principle that there is an essential and inextricably entwined relationship between our community domestic violence programs and our health care providers in service to survivors.

Good health is a healthy diet, good exercise, sufficient rest, psychological balance and a safe relationship. DVAC is absolutely committed to the advocacy necessary to improve the community’s understanding of the relationship between safe relationships and good health.

[1] The data was from 1995. It is expected that costs would be considerably higher in today’s dollars.