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DOH Director Vows Continued Support for Kalaupapa

State Department of Health (DOH) Director Dr. Linda Rosen has a soft spot for Kaluapapa, but her term is nearing its end, and she visited the settlement last week to speak with residents there personally.

“I just want to let you know what a privilege it has been to be the director of the Department of Health and to have the privilege to be involved with Kalaupapa,” Rosen said.

Rosen, a political appointee, was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in February to fill a vacancy created by the death of former director Loretta Fuddy. With a new governor being elected in November, there will be a change in all of the appointed directors. When Abercrombie’s term ends at the close of this year, Rosen’s term will end on Dec. 1.

Rosen said she may still be reappointed for a longer term of service by the new governor.

“At this point, we don’t know who will win [the election for governor] and whether they have other folks in mind [to appoint] but I’m going to stay in the department and definitely have my interest here in Kalaupapa,” Rosen said. “If I am reappointed that would be terrific because I could continue to work with the patients here, and if not, I will certainly advocate for Kalaupapa with the new director.”

Most recently before her appointment as DOH director, she was department’s chief of the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, a position she plans to return to after December. Before that, she served as the deputy director for Health Resources Administration from 2005 to 2007 and handled various issues in Kalaupapa, visiting the settlement on a number of occasions and developing a special fondness for the community.

“I will be around in the DOH, but until such a time that I’m not director anymore I’m still hoping to work for the betterment of Kalaupapa and the patients,” Rosen said. “In the coming years, if I am not directly involved, I’ll always be looking out for what’s happening over here.”

DOH Kalaupapa Administrator Mark Miller said he and the residents of Kalaupapa appreciate all of Rosen’s work in the settlement. Miller said he thanks Rosen for her great service.

National Park Service Volunteer Joyce Kainoa said Kalaupapa residents don’t often have the opportunity to see and speak with the DOH Director, like they have with Rosen.

“A lot of times we… don’t get to see the director and the messages between state staff and residents here don’t get through,” Kainoa said. “In the past, [the DOH directors] are caught up with so many things and Kalaupapa has always been left out.”

Rosen said she plans to work for Kalaupapa patients as long as she’s involved with the DOH.

“It’s one of the high points of my whole career to be in this position,” Rosen said. “…It is such an amazing and very rare privilege to have in your life because of the great historical context.”

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