5 Things Hawaii: Kelley Withy, Topical Agenda, Castle Medical Center

I hope you had a relaxing Thanksgiving weekend before the holiday season gets a little too busy! I always find this time of year to be a good reminder to say thank you to everyone who is working to move the health system forward. So, mahalo nui for all that you do and (as always) thanks for reading our stuff.

Here’s 5 Things We’re Watching in Hawaii health care and health policy.

DJ 5 Things Signature


1. Video:  Dr. Kelley Withy on measuring quality

Dr. Kelley Withy is the Director of the Hawaii/Pacific Basin Area Health Education Center at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is also a professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. She joins us in this edition to talk about finding solutions for healthcare providers.

“We have quality metrics but one thing, for example one thing I heard is that the five Medicaid insurance companies request that their quality metrics be reported in a different way. Same numbers, different patients, different reporting methodology…Why can’t they report it the same way for all the insurance companies?”

2.  Castle Medical Center wins Baldrige Award

Oahu’s community hospital system Castle Medical Center was awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, one of only two healthcare organizations to receive the award. The award is the nation’s only Presidential award for performance excellence. Castle Medical Center is Hawaii’s first winner.

Castle Medical Center had a 12 percent improvement in measurements of evidence-based care, patient safety, and mortality related to clinical care processes between 2012 and 2014. The hospital also has high levels of patient engagement and patient satisfaction while also supporting strong financial and market performance with an operating margin of approximately $2 million. Castle Medical Center, you are a leader among the hospital and health care community in Hawaii. Thank you for your dedication to quality care.



3.  ICYMI: Topical Agenda now available!

In case you missed it, we released our Topical Agenda for our 2018 Hawaii State of Reform Health Policy Conference last month. Thank you to everyone who has offered to speak and shared their ideas on what content we should include.

If you haven’t checked out the agenda yet, you can do so here. As always, if you have any suggestions on what we should include, you can send those my way. We’ll be releasing our Detailed Agenda next week so stay tuned! We look forward to seeing you and 300 of your closest friends in Hawaii healthcare on January 10th!  So, be sure to register before the holidays get too much upon us!


4.  How opioids are hitting Hawaii

On Friday the Senate and House health committees held an initiative briefing on Hawaii’s statewide response to opioid abuse. In July, Governor Ige asked the DOH to convene a multi-agency effort to develop an action plan to combat the opioid crisis. Though Hawaii has the 8th lowest rates of opioid deaths in the country, drug overdoses are still the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the state and account for 23 percent of all fatal injuries.

At the committee meeting, Edward Mersereau, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division Chief at the DOH, presented a coordinated systems approach to improve the prevention, detection, and treatment of opioid abuse. Key focuses include improving access to treatment, prescriber education, data collection, public education, pharmacy-based interventions, and supporting law enforcement and first responders.



5.  Medical marijuana and confiscating weapons

For the past few months, medical marijuana users in Oahu have been receiving letters from the Honolulu Police Department ordering them to surrender their firearms. The letter, signed by Chief of Police Susan Ballard, references Section 134-7 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes which states that any person who is prohibited from owning a firearm under federal law, isn’t allowed to own, possess, or control a firearm in Hawaii.

So, while medical marijuana became legal in Hawaii back in 2000, it is still illegal under federal law and is considered a controlled substance. Unlawful users of controlled substances are prohibited from firearm ownership and therefore the police department has the right to confiscate these firearms. This is true for all 29 states with medical marijuana laws. However, Hawaii seems to be the first state to actively seek out medical marijuana users and demand they surrender their guns.

Following public outcry, on Tuesday the Honolulu Police Department announced it is in the process of reviewing this policy and will not ask medical marijuana patients to give up their firearms while they continue to consult with other government agencies. They will, however, continue denying new firearm permits to applicants with medical marijuana cards.