LIHUE — The island of Kauai brought home two out of three awards handed out by the Hawaii Department of Health last week.
Gary Ueunten, an environmental health specialist with the DOH Kauai District Health Office, was selected as the department’s 2013 Employee of the Year, while Tropic Care Kauai brought home DOH’s Team of the Year award.
“Gary has been instrumental in enforcement actions related to water quality,” the DOH release states. “His collection of data was critical to successful collaborations between the county, state and federal agencies that resulted in appropriate enforcement actions.”
Ueunten has been with the DOH since 1994 and said he was surprised by the award.
“I never really expected it,” he said.
Ueunten was also commended for his work in monitoring Japanese tsunami debris, according to the release.
Ueunten lives in Koloa with his wife Glenna and their two children, Amy and Lyle.
The Tropic Care Kauai team was a collaborative effort centered on providing free professional medical services to residents on Kauai, and most importantly, to medically underserved populations, according to the release.
“The seeds of this massive operation were planted in 2010 when the Kauai District Health Office drafted, designed and submitted an ambitious proposal to the Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) group at the Pentagon,” states the release. “The benefits to Kauai residents were valued in excess of $7 million.”
The DOH’s third award went to Ron Balajadia, a public health program manager with the DOH Disease Outbreak Control Division. Balajadia oversees all statewide operations of the Stop Flu at School program and was responsible for the planning phase and monitoring of temperatures of vaccine shipments, according to the release.
The DOH conducts an annual awards ceremony each year to recognize employees who have excelled at leadership, teamwork and public service over the previous year.
Nominations of those who demonstrated superior service are submitted by subordinates, peers and supervisors both within and outside of the department.
These three department winners will go on to compete for the state awards at the Governor’s Awards ceremony in October 2013.