Out-of-state healthcare staff helping Hawaiʻi respond to pandemic; Gov. Ige praises Hawaiʻi-based employees of The Ching Villas and Ohana Pacific Management Company for “extraordinary commitment” in caring for local kūpuna

Link to photos here (please note photo credit on individual photos)

As part of a $17 million CARES Act allocation, Gov. David Ige today visited an onboarding session for about 50 out-of-state healthcare workers. The visit, conducted in a strictly controlled, socially distanced environment, was held at St. Francis Healthcare System in Liliha where the visiting nurses are learning the operations of Hawaiʻi’s long term care facilities.

In total, more than 170 medical employees are in Hawaiʻi now through December 26, 2020. They were contracted by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH) with Ohio-based ProLink Services to bolster staffing at Hawaiʻi’s hospitals and long-term care facilities because of the pandemic. The effort to staff post-acute care facilities is being coordinated by the DOH and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH).

The job roles were strategically selected to provide maximum value to the state. Individual staff may not remain at the same facility for the duration of their employment. Employees can be quickly mobilized into a “strike team” to assist specific nursing homes or hospitals, should a COVID-19 cluster emerge.

“I thank the Dept. of Health and our many partners for making today a reality,” said Gov. David Ige, who visited both the traveling personnel and local healthcare employees who have been working on the frontlines since the early stages of the pandemic. “Our local healthcare employees have been working diligently, around the clock, making many personal sacrifices to ensure that the facilities they work in and our communities are safe and the spread COVID-19 is prevented. These traveling medical professionals will support and bolster Hawaiʻi’s healthcare workforce, should we experience a surge in cases.”

Dept. of Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said, “All arriving personnel have met rigorous health and safety standards in the fight against COVID-19. They are licensed, fully trained and ready to work in Hawaiʻi’s long-term care facilities.” ProLink’s supplemental personnel working in Hawaiʻi’s acute care hospitals have already undergone orientation and are on the job across the state.

Prior to greeting the incoming healthcare workforce, Gov. Ige thanked the employees of The Ching Villas, part of Ohana Pacific Management – a 119-bed post-acute care facility - and praised their commitment to Hawaiʻi’s kūpuna. “During this pandemic, Hawaiʻi relies on you and the many others who provide care for our vulnerable seniors,” he said. “We greatly appreciate your support in protecting public health as Hawaiʻi revives our economy and begins our recovery.”

Richard Kishaba, founder of Ohana Pacific commented, “We are thankful that through our relationship with St. Francis, we were able to work with the state of Hawaiʻi and HAH to expand the capacity of our healthcare workforce. By working together, we can continue delivering great care to our community and kūpuna. This has been a trying time for all of us in the healthcare community, and it’s comforting to know that we now have extra support.”

HAH President and CEO Hilton Raethel said, “On behalf of Hawaiʻi’s healthcare delivery system, we appreciate the foresight of Gov. Ige and the Dept. of Health. This staffing assistance should assure Hawaiʻi that we are prepared for anything that may occur, from a third wave of COVID-19 to a severe flu season. The healthcare workforce has been stretched thin since the onset of the pandemic, and these reinforcements are coming at the right time and with ideal skill sets.”

ProLink CEO and Cofounder Tony Munafo said, “ProLink is proud to have partnered with Hawaiʻi’s healthcare leaders in implementing clinical workforce solutions throughout these critical weeks and months to ensure patient care delivery across the islands.” ProLink Director of Clinical Solutions Mary Hamilton added: “Leading up to – and throughout – these assignments, the ProLink team is in constant communication with our clinicians, coordinating everything from regulatory compliance, to onboarding itineraries and monitoring with regular status checks. These clinicians are tested for COVID prior to beginning patient care and are following the DOH and CDC guidelines throughout their assignments. This collaborative effort has, and will continue to provide continuity of high-quality patient care for Hawaiʻi’s community.”

The Kaua‘i District Health Office today reports a new case of COVID-19.

The individual is an adult female resident who remains in isolation. All identified close contacts are in quarantine. The individual is an employee of the Department of Education. The Department of Health worked closely with school leadership over the weekend and identified no close contacts at the school.

Thus far, this case has no apparent link to travel but the investigation continues.

This brings Kaua‘i’s current active cases to two, with eight individuals in quarantine as close contacts. Kaua‘i’s cumulative total of cases to date is now 62, and one probable case. Kaua‘i’s most recent case will be reflected in Monday’s statewide count.

For more information, visit the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency website at

For information on the state’s Safe Travels Program, please visit

Coffee leaf rust (CLR) has been tentatively identified on coffee plant samples collected

on Maui. The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) this afternoon received preliminary results from University of Hawai`i, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH-CTAHR) identifying the fungus on plants collected from managed and wild coffee

in the Haiku area. Samples have also been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Identification Services on the Mainland for official confirmation of this federally regulated pathogen.

Coffee leaf rust, lower leaf surface

CLR is one of the most devastating pests of coffee plants and is established in all of the other major coffee growing areas of the world, but had not previously been found in Hawai`i.

On October 21, 2020, leaves from managed coffee in the Haiku area of Maui displaying CLR symptoms were turned in to the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) on Maui.

Subsequent surveys in the area found plants with symptoms at three additional locations, two of which were in wild coffee. HDOA has sent a memo to members of the coffee industry throughout the state to alert them to the situation. Currently, HDOA is continuing its efforts to survey on Maui and is extending those efforts statewide as well.

Coffee leaf rust – infected plant

“It is unknown at this time how the rust got to coffee plants on Maui or how long it has been there,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “We appreciate the assistance of the multiple agencies that are helping us to determine the extent of this infestation and how coffee leaf rust may have been introduced into the state.”

CLR can cause severe defoliation of coffee plants. Infected leaves drop prematurely, greatly reducing the plant’s photosynthetic capacity. Vegetative and berry growth are reduced depending on the intensity of rust in the current year. Long-term effects of rust may include dieback, which can have a significant impact on the following year’s yield, with some researchers estimating losses between 30 percent and 80 percent.

Coffee leaf rust – defoliation

The first observable symptoms are yellow-orange rust spots, appearing on the upper surface of leaves. On the underside of the leaves, infectious spores appear resembling a patch of yellow- to dark orange-colored powder. These young lesions steadily increase in size with the center of the lesion turning necrotic and brown, with the infection eventually progressing up the tree. CLR may also infect young stems and  berries.

While there are fungicides that may be used to help control the fungus, one of the key factors to any pest management program is good sanitation practices. Regular pruning and training of the coffee tree helps to prevent over-cropping and maintain a healthy field. These practices help to improve air circulation and also to open up the canopy to allow proper fungicide spray coverage. Good weed control is an important factor as it keeps competition for vital nutrients low, thereby reducing the susceptibility to the rust.

Coffee leaf rust – upper leaf surface

Coffee leaf rust, Hemileia vastatrix, was first discovered in Sri Lanka in 1869 and is now found in the major coffee-growing regions of the world, including Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.

Hawai`i has strict importation rules requiring all imported green coffee beans for roasting and associated packing materials be fumigated prior to entering the state to ensure beans are free of pathogens and insect pests.

These rules also subject coffee plants and propagative plant parts to strict quarantine requirements if imported to Hawai`i, including a quarantine on all imported coffee plants for a minimum of one year in a state-run quarantine facility.

To report possible coffee leaf rust infestations on any island, call HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch at (808) 973-9525.

For more information on coffee leaf rust go to the UH-CTAHR webpages at:—nko.html


  • Flickr Photo Albums
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

Hawai`i State Capitol
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

Copyright 2019 Hawai`i Senate Majority