Hawaii Taxpayers to Pay for Fall Prevention Coordinator

July 14, 2014

Hawaii is creating a new government position for 2015 for which the state's taxpayers will pay $81,000: a fall prevention coordinator, reports Watchdog.org. The full-time position will be expected to teach Hawaiian seniors how not to fall.

Those in favor of the new position point to the fact that the senior population of Hawaii has experienced steady growth in recent decades:

  • The senior population in the state has increased by 116 percent over the past 20 years, more than double the national rate of 47 percent.
  • Hawaii's elderly population is expected to constitute one-fifth of the state's population by 2030.
  • Ninety million is spent on emergency room and hospital visits every year in Hawaii for seniors who take serious falls. Rehabilitation costs total an additional $90 million.

According to Suzanne Chun Oakland, the state's Senate Human Services Committee Chair, no private entity or nonprofit group could tackle fall prevention in Hawaii without state government authority.

Currently, state employee Stanley Michaels serves as Hawaii's part-time volunteer fall prevention coordinator. Michaels gives presentations to seniors, recommends vision checks and medication reviews, encourages exercise and tells seniors to "safety proof" their homes (by removing extension cords or items on the floor, for example).

According to Watchdog.org, a taxpayer-funded task force spent an entire year studying fall prevention before creating the position.

The articles notes that critics are skeptical of the state's alleged need to pay an individual to offer common-sense advice.

Subject: Malia Zimmerman, "Stay seated: Hawaii will pay $81k for fall-prevention coordinator," Watchdog.org, July 3, 2014.

 

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