A new pharmacist position was recently created within the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) with the support of faculty at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) to broaden the role of pharmacy in safeguarding community health.
In February 2022, the agency hired Garrett Hino, a DKICP graduate and one of only two board-certified infectious disease pharmacists in the state. Hino will focus on promoting antimicrobial stewardship that includes appropriate use of antibiotics.
“Experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic magnified the need for strengthening DOH capacity to address emerging infectious diseases, such as healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance,” explained Enid Vélez-Valle, an epidemiologist at DOH’s Disease Outbreak Control Division. “Our focus is to prioritize patient safety and quality improvement through direct engagement with Hawaiʻi’s healthcare facilities, such as acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.”
Public health pipeline
Since 2016, DKICP has supported the development of antimicrobial stewardship programs in the state by providing technical assistance and education for participating healthcare facilities.
“In this new position, I’m part of a DOH team working to establish a relationship with the staff at long-term care facilities and acute care hospitals around the state,” Hino said. ”Our goals are to optimize antimicrobial stewardship practices through better education, and to reduce the development of antimicrobial resistance that can occur from inappropriate antibiotic use. I’m really happy to be able to work in my home state and serve our local communities.”
Hino completed a BS in biology at UH Hilo and graduated from DKICP in 2018. He was selected for a one-year residency at the college, and then went on to complete a two-year infectious disease fellowship at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California in 2021.
“The college has a long history working with the DOH on antimicrobial stewardship and COVID response, and we assisted in the development of a proposal to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] for this new position,” explained Roy Goo, DKICP associate professor and chair of the department of pharmacy practice. “This new position is a result of our work and demonstration of the value of pharmacists in public health.”
According to Goo, the pharmacy school will continue providing oversight, strategic guidance and assistance in defining the scope of this role.