DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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June/July 2018 The mission of the Department of Health is to protect and improve the health and environment for all people in Hawaii. We believe that an optimal state of physical, mental, social and environmental well-being is a right and responsibility of all of Hawaii’s people. DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption Spectacular geological displays of bright red lava flowing from the Kilauea volcano and oozing from fissures in the ground, and billowing clouds of ash and volcanic smog are capturing the attention of those around the globe. But there has been an equally as remarkable display by the people involved in the response effort that has been largely unnoticed. Hawaii Department of Health personnel have been working virtually non- stop for a month to respond to the effects of the volcano, rising to the challenge to protect the health and well-being of emergency responders and residents in the Bringing Out Our Best Residents have had to endure the Kilauea East Rift Zone. pain of watching their homes — Adversity can bring out the best once their safe, secure refuge — in people. This is evident in the come under siege by unpredictable The Department of Health’s Hawaii teamwork among those responding lava flows. They have been buffeted District Office jumped into the fray to the ongoing eruption. DOH team by a constant barrage of threats to without any hesitation when the members have been integrated in their physical well-being and their volcano erupted on May 3. They the emergency operations and have idyllic lifestyles. The only thing took immediate action and other been instrumental in instilling a certain for them is uncertainty. DOH personnel and those from sense of calm to those whose lives They may cling to their special other federal and state agencies have been turned upside. joined them for a collaborative, multi-agency response. (continued on page 2
Ola Lokahi Hawaii State Department of Health June/July 2018 . 2 Robust Teamwork to Kilauea Eruption (continued from page 1) memories, but have had to let go of their dreams for now and focus on getting through each hour, each day. We should be rightfully proud of the DOH team which has been immersed in the response activities on Hawaii island as well as in Honolulu. Here are some highlights: • The Hawaii District Health Office (HDHO), led by Aaron Ueno, is playing a major role in coordinating and mobilizing inter-departmental resources to address various public health DOH team installing air quality monitoring stations. concerns related to the Kilauea data to make informed decisions has been invaluable to the volcano eruption, including air on how to respond to the Department’s response. Staff quality concerns and mental ongoing volcanic acvitity. have also served in ESF-8 as health issues. The HDHO will Departmental liaison between continue efforts to guide and • The Safe Drinking Water State Civil Defense, federal advise the affected communities Branch updated precautionary agencies and the Department of in addressing both the short- measures to protect residents Health to identify and respond term concerns as well as long- who have water catchment to public health and medical term public health impacts. The systems and live downwind of needs of the community and to HDHO staff have made their volcanic activity. mobilize appropriate resources. expertise available 24/7 to assist Epidemiology staff are also the county with the response • Emergency Medical Services and tracking utilization of EMS and planning for ongoing and Injury Prevention System Branch services to monitor any changes emerging public health and Chief Dr. Alvin Bronstein has due to the event. environmental issues. been deployed to Hawaii Island to consult with the Mayor, • The Communicable Disease and • With the vog (volcanic smog), the Emergency Operations Public Health Nursing Division sulfur dioxide and hydrogen Center and the Hawaii District has also been involved. Our sulfide gases, air quality Health Office on potentially public health nurses have been monitoring has been a priority hazardous gases and ash and to an integral member of the for our Clean Air Branch, provide public information and Department’s Public Health the Hazard Evaluation and education on protection from Assessment Team (PHAST). The Emergency Response Office, and exposure. team has been indispensable in the State Laboratories Division providing front line to ensure responders and the As a physician and toxicologist, public have access to real-time Dr. Bronstein’s expertise (continued on page 3)
Ola Lokahi Hawaii State Department of Health June/July 2018 . 3 Robust Teamwork for Kilauea Eruption (continued from page 2) to the care and attention they compiling materials for federal need. Dr. Bill Sheehan has been reimbursement. This is a huge information on shelter needs backing up the ESF 8 effort at additional workload for them to the Department’s Operation the state Emergency Operations as they also close out the fiscal Center. The team provides Center. year. real-time information on public health, epidemiology, behavioral • The Disease Outbreak Control • Under the direction of health and environmental Division is conducting enhanced Judy Kern, the Office of Public health. Public health nursing community surveillance for Health Preparedness (PHP) has also been integral to respiratory-related issues in has been leading ongoing getting information out to medical facilities and shelters. coordination efforts for DOH the community and linking The data provides a general response under Emergency community members to needed picture of the potential burden Support Functions 8 &10. resources. on clinics and emergency PHP implemented a partial departments from respiratory Department Operations Center • Dr. Paul Beighley, Medical complaints. The Division is also (DOC), conducts DOH Director of the Adult Mental conducting active surveillance coordination meetings and Health Division on Hawaii island, of emergency responders to briefings, compiles and his team have been involved track exposure to potentially and disseminates situation in response since the earthquake hazardous gases and ash. reports, facilitates multi-sector and tremors were felt the day information sharing, provides before the Kilaeua eruption on • The Administrative Services communications surge capacity, May 3. He has been Office has been handling and works with Hawaii District collaborating with the American travel requests and financial Health Office to manage Medical Red Cross to ensure mental paperwork from all DOH staff health counseling is available for involved in the response, as well those who have been displaced as coordinating funding and (continued on page 5) from their homes and are living in shelters, while also taking care of individuals with severe mental illness, who remain the priorities of the Adult Mental Health Division and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division. • Rachelle Agrigado, MSW, Mental Health Supervisor with the Hawaii Department of Health’s Hawaii Family Guidance Center, deserves recognition for her steadfast presence at the shelters and in the information center. She has been working overtime, including evenings, to ensure families have access
Ola Lokahi Hawaii State Department of Health June/July 2018 . 4 Two Outstanding Employees from Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division Receive National Accolades Two Department of Health employees in our Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division made Hawaii proud. Eddie Mersereau, LCSW, CSAC, Administrator of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD), and Jared Yurow, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist Supervisor in the same division, were recently honored with awards for their outstanding contributions and service to the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD). They were both recognized at NASADAD’s 2018 annual meeting, Eddie Mersereau, LCSW, CSAC Jared Yurow, Psy.D. which was held in collaboration with the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Center for and informational organization Eddie also enthusiastically Substance Abuse Prevention in the that serves state drug agency participates in association activities. Hyatt Regency in Bethesda, directors and state alcoholism He has served as a member of Maryland, from May 21 to 24. agency directors. NASADAD’s basic the public policy committee and purpose is to foster and support the actively supports fellow single state “The Hawaii Department of Health development of effective alcohol agency directors in NASADAD’s is fortunate to have great people on and other drug abuse prevention Region IX, which includes American our team who actively participate and treatment programs throughout Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, in professional associations that every state. Hawaii, Nevada, and the Republic promote best practices and high of Palau. Eddie freely shares standards of care,” said Lynn Fallin, A Well-Deserved Service Award specific information on Hawaii with Deputy Director of Behavioral for Eddie Mersereau NASADAD, which in turn helps the Health. “The evolving field of Eddie, who has been with ADAD for other association members remain substance use disorder prevention, just two and half years, has quickly informed about trends in Hawaii. treatment and recovery requires shown his expertise and spirit of continuous learning. Eddie and aloha. He received a NASADAD He also served as a panelist at Jared have been able to learn from Service Award for going above the 2018 conference. Eddie co- others and share their experiences and beyond the call of service. He presented a session titled, “Hawaii with their counterparts in other serves on the board of directors - Rethinking Our System of Care” areas of the country. Ultimately, all and participated in each meeting with Beth Rutkowski, MPH, of their volunteer work benefits the via conference call, even though Associate Director of Training & residents we serve in Hawaii.” that required him to be up at 4 am Epidemiologist, UCLA Integrated to participate with his mainland Substance Abuse Programs and NASADAD is a private, not-for- colleagues. profit educational, scientific, (continued on page 5)
Ola Lokahi Hawaii State Department of Health June/July 2018 . 5 Robust Teamwork for Kilauea Eruption (continued from page 3) Reserve Corps volunteer efforts. • The DOH Communications Office has deployed staff to work at the Hawaii Island Joint Information Center to assist in drafting daily messages for the mayor, writing press materials, vetting facts, coordinating news media interviews, posting social media messages, and responding to public questions during 12-hour shifts. The office continues to manage local and national media inquiries related Making Hawaii Proud to statewide health issues. Mahalo to all for contributing your expertise to help those in need on Hawaii Island. We are glad you are (continued from page 4) committees, presentations, work part of the DOH team. groups and conference calls. He and Co-Director, Pacific Southwest continues to educate his mainland Addiction Technology Transfer counterparts on Hawaii’s efforts Center (HHS Region 9) with the to collect performance data, Substance Abuse and Mental Health promote cultural competence and Services Administration in the U.S. the importance of sustaining the Department of Health and Human substance use disorder system. Services. Joyce Starr, the National Treatment Jared Yurow Wins Another Network (NTN) President, said Jared NASADAD Award in Three Years has “dedicated his time and energy This was Jared’s second NASADAD for many years to the NTN and now award. In 2015, he received the treatment centers. He always has NASADAD Opioid Treatment been the first to volunteer his time, Network State Representative ideas, and has been dedicated to our of the Year Award, and this year, organization and its success over was awarded the NASADAD the years. He is a positive leader and National Treatment Network State his knowledge and understanding Representative of the Year Award. of our field and the challenges we face makes him a great resource. His Despite being in the middle of the kindness is what touches my heart Pacific, his NASADAD colleagues the most. To have had the ability to think he an indispensable member know him all these years makes me of the team. He is a tireless advocate a better person.” for people in recovery, devoted to the field and has always volunteered Congratulations and mahalo to his expertise on numerous Eddie and Jared!
Ola Lokahi Hawaii State Department of Health June/July 2018 . 6 NASTAD’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to Branch Chief Peter Whiticar Peter Whiticar, Chief of the Hawaii Peter has educated Department of Health’s Harm colleagues and federal Reduction Services Branch, was funders about the recently presented with the 2018 importance of investing Lifetime Achievement Award from in core public health the National Alliance of State and infrastructure in low Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). incidence states. He received this well-deserved He is one of the original award at NASTAD’s annual founding members of conference in Washington, D.C., NASTAD, continues to serve in May. on its board of directors, and is an advocate for other NASTAD’s Lifetime Achievement states. Award is presented annually to current or former state health A True, Tireless Murray Penner, Executive Director of the National department HIV or hepatitis Public Health Advocate Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors directors or senior staff members Throughout his career, (NASTAD), presents Harm Reduction Services who have dedicated their career Peter has remained Branch Chief Peter Whiticar, with the 2018 Lifetime to working in state government committed to addressing Achievement Award for his dedication to to address the HIV and/or viral societal injustices that addressing health disparities and social inequities. hepatitis epidemics. result in health disparities. leader who has great compassion Dedicated to Preventing for people who are at risk for “Whether focused on the needs Epidemics and Addressing HIV infection. His insightfulness, of gay and bisexual men, persons Health Disparities tremendous organizational skills, who inject drugs, transgender Peter has dedicated his career to individuals, homeless energy and direction are major ensuring Hawaii residents have persons, individuals who have reasons Hawai‘i has a low-incidence access to high quality infectious experienced incarceration, or non- for HIV infection.” disease prevention, care, and U.S. born immigrants and refugees, treatment services. Peter has always sought to create This LIfetime Achievement Award spaces where individuals feel adds to Peter’s previous NASTAD He has been Chief of the Harm welcomed, valued, and safe,” said recognition — the Dr. Nicholas A. Reduction Services Branch, Murray Penner, NASTAD Executive Rango Award for exemplary national previously known as the STD/AIDS Director. “He brings humanity, leadership in HIV/AIDS efforts. Prevention Branch, since 1994. humility, ethics, and an unwavering He currently provides statewide commitment to human rights. Peter NASTAD is a leading non-partisan leadership and coordination for is the true embodiment of Hawaii’s non-profit association whose the prevention, treatment, care aloha spirit, and we’re honored mission is to end the intersecting and surveillance of HIV, sexually to present him NASTAD’s Lifetime epidemics of HIV, viral hepatitis, and transmitted infections and adult Achievement Award. related conditions by strengthening viral hepatitis, and administers the domestic and global governmental state’s medical cannabis patient Health Director Bruce Anderson public health through advocacy, registry. added: “Peter is a very talented capacity building, and social justice.
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