ASTHO Mourns the Loss of Hawaii State Department of Health Director Loretta "Deliana" Fuddy

Dec 12, 2013, 13:09 ET from Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) mourns the tragic loss of Loretta "Deliana" Fuddy, ACSW, MPH, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH). Fuddy was killed yesterday in a small plane crash while traveling from the island of Molokai in Hawaii.

This news came just as the United Health Foundation announced that Hawaii was number one in the 2013 America's Health Rankings—a reflection of Fuddy's deep and abiding dedication to the health of the people of Hawaii. She was particularly known for her work to ensure that all of Hawaii's public health programs take into account the cultural background of those the department serves, particularly native Hawaiians.

"It is with great sadness that I hear of Deliana's sudden passing, just after spending time with her last week at a state health official meeting," said Paul Jarris, MD, MBA, executive director of ASTHO. "From day one of her tenure as state health official when preparing for a tsunami to hit Hawaii in 2011 until yesterday celebrating Hawaii's ranking as the healthiest state, Deliana was an excellent health official and true public health hero serving not only the citizens of Hawaii, but all citizens across this nation.

"She was an unwavering advocate for the health of children and youth and a champion for achieving the highest quality of health for all people. She was a compassionate, caring, and humble human being, and a great friend and colleague to so many of us in the public health community. She will be greatly missed."

According to news reports, Hawaii State Department of Health Deputy Director Keith Yamamoto was also on the plane. The ASTHO community has Yamamoto and all the employees of the Hawaii State Department of Health in our thoughts.

Prior to becoming Hawaii's state health official, Fuddy served as chief of the Family Health Services Division, where she focused on the promotion of women and children's health. She also served as secretary and as treasurer of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, the chair of the Hawaii Public Health Association, president of the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Social Workers, and was an active member of ASTHO.

"This is a true loss to the community of public health," said Terry Cline, PhD, president of ASTHO and Oklahoma commissioner of health. "Deliana was equal parts kindness and determination, and she made ASTHO and every place she worked and touched a better place. On behalf of ASTHO and all state and territorial health departments, I share our sincerest condolences with the Hawaii State Department of Health, the people of Hawaii, and all of Deliana's friends and family."

Fuddy received many honors in her 30 year career in public health, including the Hawaii Outstanding Advocate for Children and Youth, the DOH Sustained Superior and Exemplary Performance Award, the National Association of Social Workers Hawaii Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award, the Ford Foundation's Innovations in American Government award, the Pro Humanitate Literary Award from the Center for Child Welfare Policy, and the Director's Award from the Maternal & Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration.

In March, Fuddy received the Jonathan Won Child Maltreatment Prevention Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma at Alliant International University's in honor of her tireless work to address child maltreatment, abuse, and neglect. At the time, she remarked, "I have not been blessed with having my own children, but that must have been in the plan so that I could embrace all children. Hawaii's families need our support now more than ever; it is so important to look at mentoring children and protecting them. Children are our gifts for the future."

ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in state-based public health practice.

SOURCE Association of State and Territorial Health Officials