DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health

DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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

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)
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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

•     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
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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)
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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.
                                                                                   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!
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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
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.
DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health DOH Team Rises to the Challenges of the Ongoing Kilauea Eruption - Hawaii State Department of Health
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