Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson and Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda will retire in September, Gov. David Ige’s office announced this morning.
Anderson’s retirement is effective Sept. 15 after 35 years of experience managing health and environmental programs in Hawaiʻi, including serving as the director of the department under two governors. Espinda is on personal leave through September and his retirement is effective Oct. 1.
“Both directors have served admirably under extremely challenging conditions, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank them for their many years of service to the people of Hawaiʻi and wish them well as they retire and are able to spend time with their families,” Ige said.
Anderson said it’s been an honor and pleasure to serve as DOH director under Ige, with Espinda and his fellow cabinet members.
“In my retirement, I look forward to doing a lot more fishing and horseback riding with my wife, Debbie,” said Anderson.
Ige has appointed Dr. Libby Char to serve as interim director of DOH effective Sept. 16. Her appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
Char is an emergency physician and graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi, John A. Burns School of Medicine. After completing residency training in California, she returned to Hawaiʻi to the clinical practice of emergency medicine at The Queen’s Medical Center. She provided administrative oversight for the City and County of Honolulu EMS system for many years.
Char currently focuses her efforts on developing systems of care, training, protocols and emergency response utilizing best practices in the pre-hospital environment. She provides medical direction for several EMS, Fire, and Ocean Safety agencies across the state of Hawaiʻi and is the current chair of the State of Hawaiʻi EMS Advisory Committee.
“I am honored to fill the position of Director of Health for the State of Hawaiʻi. We are in a difficult position, with a heavy burden of COVID-19 affecting the health, well-being and livelihood of so many of us. We must move forward together, through collaborative efforts, caring for each other with a shared sense of purpose. In doing so, we will regain the health of our communities and our state,” said Char.
Ige will announce an interim appointment to lead the Public Safety Department in the coming weeks. Maria Cook, the deputy director for administration will be temporarily assigned and has been granted signatory authority while Espinda is on leave. The deputy directors for law enforcement and corrections will continue in their capacities to oversee their division operations. Espinda will be available to provide advice remotely in the interim should the need arise.