Today, with Chang as the executive director leading the way, the Hawaii COPD Coalition was the major mover in getting a joint concurrent resolution in Hawaiis state legislature (HCR154) passed, directing the states Department of Health to create a Hawaii COPD State Plan.
This legislation came about largely because of a well-timed spirometry test. During the annual Women in Government Healthcare Summit in November 2011 in Washington, D.C., the COPD Foundation provided spirometry testing and educated state legislators about COPD. One was Hawaii State Representative Barbara Marumoto (R-HI), who took a spirometry test, learned more about the disease, and added it to the Hawaii Womens Caucus legislative package.
Another legislator who introduced the resolutionwhich was ultimately adoptedis currently representing the district where Chang lives, State Representative Mark Hashem (D-HI).
Because she [Rep. Marumoto] learned about COPD firsthand, she realized the importance of the Hawaii legislature directing the health department to draft a state COPD plan, Chang says. Hopefully the state will be putting more emphasis and resources toward COPD and the various health care institutions, collaborating more to provide better care. The vision is a healthier Hawaii with the patient voice at the table.
The resolution has passed in both the Hawaii House and Senate, and was adopted in final form in April of this year. The Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Education Program provided funds to the Hawaii COPD Coalition to convene a Strategic Planning meeting in March. Dozens of organizations participated in the event. A final version of the Hawaii COPD Plan should be ready for presentation to the Hawaii House and Senate after Novembers election.
According to state surveys, Hawaii has over 30,800 adults currently diagnosed with COPD, with around $55.9 million per year in hospital costs related to COPD.
Having a coordinated state plan will help prioritize and coordinate COPD efforts in our state, and help identify which organizations will do what to help narrow gaps and provide needed services with available resources, Chang says. Many small steps can start to make a big difference in making changes to improve health and lives. Individuals can make changes by networking, thereby multiplying their effectiveness.