Dr. Sarah Park taking paid leave from health department

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health revealed on Thursday, Sept. 3, that Dr. Sarah Park is taking a paid leave of absence.

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While Dr. Park is on leave, Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu will be in charge of all disease investigation and immunization activities under the Disease Outbreak Control Division, which Park heads while serving as the state’s lead epidemiologist.

Here’s the statement provided by the DOH below:

At this time, Dr. Sarah Park is taking a paid leave of absence from her work at the Department of Health.  During her leave, Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu is in full charge of all disease investigation and immunization activities under the Disease Outbreak Control Division. The Department of Health is continuing to fully execute disease investigation and immunization activities for the state.  This includes an accelerated expansion of contact tracing capacity. All COVID-19 response activities are proceeding and continue to be reinforced by the entire Department of Health, National Guard, Counties, and federal and community partners.

Hawaii Department of Health

Contact tracing came under Park’s purview until Dr. Emily Roberson filled a vacancy in July as chief of the Disease Investigation Branch, a position that had been vacant since at least spring 2020 when the department advertised hiring had opened for the position.

But Roberson initiated her own leave on Wednesday, citing frustrations with the department’s chain of command, Always Investigating reported.

This week, Gov. Ige also announced that DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson will be retiring from his position on Sept. 15.

Gov. Ige has appointed Dr. Libby Char to serve as interim director of the department effective Sept. 16.

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