NHCH Shows Graduating Seniors We Care
Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012

As graduation season descended upon hundreds of North Hawai’i high school seniors, NHCH took a proactive approach to teaching seniors the dangers of driving under the influence.

A group of NHCH nurses and employees, including Lynn Witte - NHCH’s Trauma Coordinator, Cindy Shiraki - NHCH’s Clinical Education and Outreach Nurse, Maria Busque - Registered Nurse, Dana Ast - Nuclear Technician, Kerston Barro - Certified Nurse Assistant and Ashley Ganzagan - Registered Nurse, visited North Hawai‘i  high schools during  the week prior to each school’s graduation. “We presented the seniors at each school with a congratulatory bento from Earl’s Paauilo Store in Kamuela and educational information about drinking and driving from the North Hawai‘i Outcomes Project and Hawai‘i Partnership to Prevent Underage Drinking,” says Lynn Witte, NHCH’s Trauma Coordinator.  “We want all North Hawai‘i high school seniors to know NHCH is proud of their accomplishments and that we care about them,” says Lorrie Mortensen, Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. 

Over four days, NHCH visited over 400 students at six high schools in the hospital’s service area as defined by the Hawaii County Emergency Medical Response zone, which is the area north of a line roughly running from Laupahoehoe on the Hamakua coast and across the Saddle to Kukio in North Kona.  The six high schools in NHCH’s service area include Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, Honoka‘a High School, Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Charter School, Kohala High School, Laupahoehoe High School and Parker School.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our community’s younger generation and show them that we care about their future,” says Maria Busque, RN at NHCH.  “All of the graduates we visited were attentive to our message to be smart and safe this graduation season. Of course, they all smiled from ear to ear when we handed each of them a bento from Earl’s,” says Cindy Shiraki, NHCH’s Clinical Education and Outreach Nurse.

Statistics Don't Lie
As of 2009, heavy drinking among adults in Hawai‘i was about 1.3 times higher than for the U.S. overall.  Heavy drinking is defined as the consumption of two or more alcoholic beverages per day for men and one or more for women. According to www.healthtrends.org, 29 percent of Hawai‘i youth ages 12 to 17 admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages in the previous month. 

However, the most shocking statistics involve drinking and driving in Hawaii.  Nearly one in every two motor vehicle deaths in Hawai‘i is alcohol related.  Since 2002, the rate of motor vehicle deaths due to alcohol has increased significantly - after a general decline between 1995 and 2002.

“Because nearly half of all motor vehicle deaths in our state are due to alcohol, we wanted North Hawai‘i high school seniors to have the right information to make safe choices during upcoming graduation celebrations.  We hope our message to seniors not to drive under the influence reminds each of them to make good decisions,” says Shiraki.  After all, we can fix a broken bone, but we can’t fix a broken heart,” says Busque.