Nurses and other health care professionals from North Hawaii Community Hospital decided to take a step to prevent the area’s graduating high school seniors from making bad choices around graduation and summer time. They were focusing on the statistic that one out of every two motor vehicle deaths here on the island is related to alcohol or impaired driving. The teams visited with graduating seniors to talk about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
NHCH team members who visited schools in the weeks preceding graduation included Trauma Coordinator Lynn Wittle, Clinical Education and Outreach Nurse Cindy Shiraki, Registered Nurses Maria Busque and Ashley Ganzagan, Nuclear Technician Dana Ast, Certified Nurse Assistant Kerston Barro.
The team 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.
In addition to talking about impaired driving, the team gave the seniors bentos from Earl’s Pa’auillo Store in Waimea.
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.