Audit finds failures in state’s response to outbreaks

A state audit says the Hawaii Department of Health had breakdowns in communication in its response to three outbreaks in 2015 and 2016.

The state auditor’s report made public Thursday says the department failed to properly communicate with its own divisions, other agencies and the public during the outbreaks of dengue fever, hepatitis A and salmonella.

State Auditor Les Kondo says confusion and discord might have been avoided if the department had followed a communications plan.

The audit points specifically to the department’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, which did not have established guidelines in distributing information to the public and other agencies.

Department officials say they have been addressing the concerns listed in the report and aim to make the department more effective.