Ola Lokahi Newsletter – May 2016

Posted on May 26, 2016 in Ola Lokahi

Ola Lokahi 0416

Ola Lokahi (May 2016)

Public Health Nursing: Big Tasks that Require Big Hearts

This month, healthcare organizations celebrated National Nurses Week from May 6 to 12. The Hawaii Department of Health is proud of all of its nurses, and will be highlighting their contributions to the community throughout the year, starting this month with our public health nurses.

The vision of our public health nurses is to bring health equity to all people in all communities. A big task that requires big hearts.

Enriching the Health of All

Their mission is to enhance and enrich the health and life of all people. Forming mutually respectful, trusting relationships is paramount to their success as public health nurses. They are effective because they start by simply listeningto communities to assess what they need. This provides insightson how to best respond, and thepublic health nurses then combine their clinical knowledge with what they have learned from individuals, families, and communities.

Public health nurses derive satisfaction from creating sustainable, systemic change – something that nurses who work in acute settings do not always get to experience. They have the opportunity to witness people’s lives changed by merging best practices in nursing, social and public health to address the root cause of poor health and chronic conditions.

Joan Takamori, APRN, Chief of the Public Health Nursing Branch, leads this important area. Statewide, there are 112 public health nurses who, each in their own way The serve as a bridge to those who are often forgotten or marginalized, connecting them to health and wellness. The public health nurses in the Department of Health are organized into 11 geographic regions to tackle health challenges in East Honolulu, West Honolulu, Windward, Central Oahu, Leeward Oahu, East Hawaii, West Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Lanai.

Preparing for Disasters

They help people prepare for and respond to natural disasters and public health emergencies, working with high-risk communities such as the homeless who live at Kea`au Beach, those in public housing in Palolo, or those in rural areas such as the Waianae Coast, North Shore, or Pahoa.  Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


Public Health Nurse Veteran Lily Ochoco:

There’s Always Room to Learn More

When it comes to public health, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Lily Ochoco, a 50- year veteran of the Hawaii Department of Health, has that vantage point.

Many years ago, women who were pregnant and exposed to Rubella may have given birth to a child with Rubella Syndrome. The child may have been cognitively impaired, blind, deaf, have a cardiac problem. The Rubella vaccine eliminated that issue. Today, we have the Zika virus that may cause microencephaly in a newborn if a woman contracts the disease during her pregnancy.

Nationally, the goal was to eliminate tuberculosis by 1960. Lily started work with Tuberculosis Branch and TB is still with us today.

Public health nurses have always been involved with those less able to access care.


50-Year Veteran

These are some of the observations of Lily, who now serves a section supervisor in the Public Health Nursing Branch. Currently, she oversees the area from Nuuanu to Chinatown, over to the gates of Fort Shafter. The catchment area has a high concentration of low-income housing. Lily said she didn’t expect to stay that long, but she has met many who want to learn, who want to grow, who want to help others be healthy, too.

She has had a front-row seat in witnessing public health evolve and the needs of people change through the years, but says the commitment of public health nurses to deliver a personalized message of hope with hands-on care, especially to those who may not have access to quality care, has remained the same. Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


Public Health Nursing: Big Tasks that Require Big Hearts

Wherever there is a need in our islands, you can count on the Department of Health’s public health nurses to be there!


Willa Donnelly, the “Uku Queen,” Helps Others Reign

Willa Donnelly, BSN, RN, APHN, a public health nurse with the Department of Health for the past 24 years, is affectionately known as the “Uku Queen.” It’s a distinction for which she should be proud.

She has been able to go into schools and help kids and their families from different cultures successfully eradicate ukus from their hair. It’s a pesky problem, especially since some cultures welcome ukus as a sign of beauty and not something to eliminate. She covers schools in the area ewa of Nuuanu Avenue to Fort Shafter, and down to Chinatown and Sand Island. Although it is one of the smallest geographical regions covered by the public health nurses, it has one of highest concentrations of low-income residents.


Overcoming Barriers

Taking care of ukus comes with unique challenges. When a child has ukus, some may see this as a medical reason to skip school, and they end of falling behind in their classes. That promoted Willa to create a “It’s Cool to be in School” campaign specifically to address this issue.

If written instructions are provided to parents on how to mix certain types of shampoo with Listerine brand mouthwash, some parents may not be able to understand English or read instructions in their own language.

“Public health nursing requires you to always be thinking,” Willa said. “It’s emotionally taxing.”

But Willa loves every moment of her work as a public health nurse.

Inspiring Others to Take Charger of Their Health

Willa said public health nursing inspires self-help and peer-to-peer support. She was once putting up “Stop the Flu in School” posters in a school cafeteria to encourage immunizations when she heard scratching noises coming from the back. It was a group of boys creating their own music using forks and other tools. She challenged them to create a rap to let me students know the value of flu shots. The result? It was one of the best turn outs with 100% students receiving their shots.  Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


It Takes a Village…to Restore a Village

“People don’t care how much you know until they first know how much you care.” That adage certainly holds true when it comes to public health, especially in Hawaii, where relationships are so critical.

Although public health nurses are well educated and possess a great deal of knowledge on how to care for those in need, that wealth of information may never be used if people do not welcome them into their lives to receive the care they need.

That’s why Joan Takamori, RN, MSN, Chief of the Public Health Nursing Branch for the Hawaii State Department of Health, and her team of public health nurses and other staff believe it’s imperative that public health nurses listen to the needs of every community statewide and respond with clinical knowledge.

Just as important, they continually seek to build trusting relationships with individuals, families, and entire communities.


Combatting Dengue Fever

The combination of these components was evident during the recent Dengue fever outbreak on Hawaii Island. In November 2015, the Department of Health, in collaboration with State Civil Defense, identified Miloli‘i, a small, isolated coastal village of about 40 homes located 38 miles from Kailua-Kona, as a hot spot for Dengue fever-carrying aegypti mosquitoes.

The lifestyle choices of those living in the area was impacting their health. With no access to county water supply, each house collects rain water in catchment tanks — the ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The emergency response plan called for safely treating catchment tanks to control the mosquitos to prevent the spread of the disease. However, there remained one major obstacle: the families of Miloli‘i were reluctant to let “outsiders” into their village.

While it may have been tempting to write this community off and give up on them, the Public Health Nursing Branch’s vision of health equity for all people in all communities reminded the public health nursing team to never give up. Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


Hawaii Department of Health Partners with CVS Minute Clinics and Hep Free Hawaii to Offer Simple Hepatitis C Tests

Hawaii’s kupuna — baby boomers between the ages of 51 and 71 — are among those most at risk for hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

The Hawaii State Department of Health is partnering with CVS Minute Clinics and Hep Free Hawaii to protect kupuna and others by offering convenient hepatitis C point-of- care testing. The tests begins on May 19, 2016, which is National Hepatitis Testing Day.

Convenient Testing Sites

All nine CVS Minute Clinics, located within selected Longs Drugs stores on Oahu, will offer a finger-prick test (instead of a blood draw) to check for hepatitis C in persons at risk, especially baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965.

Results from the rapid hepatitis C antibody test are available in 20 minutes. This preventive health service is fully covered by most insurance plans with no out-of-pocket costs for members.

Hepatitis C and Liver Cancer

Hawaii is the state with the highest rate of liver cancer in the U.S., and the majority of liver cancer cases in Hawaii are caused by viral hepatitis types B and C. An estimated 23,000 persons in Hawaii are currently living with chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to liver disease and cancer.

Hepatitis C is spread by blood-to-blood exposure (such as sharing injection equipment), but there are also high rates among baby boomers (born 1945-1965), regardless of any known blood exposure. More than one out of four people in Hawaii are baby boomers and should be tested at least once for hepatitis C infection. Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


Hawaii State Hospital Receives Green Light to Move Forward!
Legislature Approves $160.5 Million For New Forensic Facility

Thanks to our legislators who understand the critical need for Hawaii State Hospital to address the ongoing challenge of overcrowded patient conditions, we have been allocated the entire amount of $160.5 million to construct our new, 144-bed forensic facility to replace the Goddard Building.

This is great news for our patients, employees, and the community. The overcrowded conditions at our hospital has had an adverse impact on patients, employees and the surrounding community.

As noted in the updated master plan for the Kaneohe campus, time is of the essence for a new, high-security forensic facility that can accommodate the ever-increasing referrals of forensic patients from the court system, now and into the future.

Preparation of a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the construction of the new 144-bed forensic facility to replace the Goddard Building was contingent upon the release of appropriated funds. The DAGS team has already mobilized into action. They have mapped out a detailed construction timeline, which includes the RFP process that begins now and continues through May 2017. Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.


Bishop Building Demolition Process Also Moving Ahead

There is positive news for the lower end of the Hawaii State Hospital campus, too. Avalon Health Care Group is moving forward to meet State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) requirements and to complete an ongoing site review. SHPD is part of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.  Open the attached newsletter pdf to read more.