Families impacted by Navy water crisis say they’re still struggling to get health care

Despite what advocates described as an enormous need, one of the only homeless shelters that took in entire families on Oahu has closed.
Published: May. 6, 2022 at 5:41 PM HST|Updated: May. 6, 2022 at 6:31 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Families affected by the Navy Water crisis have filed another lawsuit.

Their lawyers said the Navy is still refusing to provide even the most basic medical screening to document exposure and care for those who have been affected.

The suit by the Hosoda Law Group joins many others.

One Navy mother who asked to remain anonymous said a doctor told her they couldn’t test for the cause of her family’s illnesses because the state Department of Health told them not to.

The woman told Hawaii News Now that she has been back in military housing for two months and she is still sick. “Vomiting, diarrhea last week,” she said.

Some of her children are also ill, and she said she has seen multiple doctors. She said they told her they could help ease their symptoms but couldn’t test for the cause.

“She said, well, we’ve been advised by the DOH that we should treat the symptoms and not look for the cause,” said the mother.

This medical advisory the Department of Health issued in March said “chemical screening for exposures to petroleum hydrocarbons in drinking water is not recommended.”

In a statement from the agency Friday, a spokesperson said the state toxicologist and the CDC determined that “diagnostic testing should be driven by the clinical evaluation of a physician. As the advisory states, available blood and urine testing cannot reliably indicate exposure to JP-5 jet fuel in drinking water or determine if symptoms are from exposure to petroleum hydrocarbons.”

Attorney Michael Green, who represents other water users, said the state is trying to keep doctors from blaming the contamination for illness to limit the amount of damages.

“Shame on them for what they did to their ohana,” said Green.

The Navy mother has tried to get to the mainland for proper health care, but her family wasn’t approved for the move.

Meanwhile, Jamie Simic said her husband had to retire so they could get out of the islands. Hawaii News Now first talked to Simic when she started adjusting her family’s water usage to keep them safe.

“We couldn’t even get the basic labs,” Simic said.

Now, her family has moved to Panama City, Florida. She said her kids were recently diagnosed with hydrocarbon toxicity exposure and are finally getting some help.

“It’s scary, but it’s also relieving,” Simic said.

“It gave me another sense of drive. Because it should not have taken five months.”

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.