Member Spotlight: Raul Pino

June 22, 2017|12:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In December 2015, Raul Pino, MD, was appointed commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Previously, he served as deputy commissioner under the leadership of Jewel Mullen, ASTHO past president. Pino brings considerable public health, administrative, and community health expertise acquired over nearly two decades of experience in state, municipal, and community public health agencies.

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to become a state health official?

My decision was more so based on circumstances rather than a planned career move. My predecessor, Jewel Mullen, moved on to a career at the federal level, and I felt better positioned to continue her legacy and body of work. I felt confident that I could continue to move the agency towards a more comprehensive approach to public health – one that addresses health disparities in our state and works in a continuum of care.

Was there someone who influenced you to lead a health department?

Mullen’s wisdom and integrity has been the greatest influence. Also, the men and women who work at our agency and showcase their dedication influence me every day.

What is your morning ritual?

I wake up before 6 a.m. every day and, like a zombie, go straight to my cup of Cuban coffee. I then feed my dog and watch the news so that I’m up-to-date for the day. With the news on in the background, I check my schedule for the day and begin responding to emails from the night before. There’s also time for me to read various materials and reports to stay informed. I then shower, get dressed, take my dog on a short walk, and head to work.

What do you do to stay healthy?

I exercise every day, and work on maintaining a healthier diet.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Any island in the Caribbean – humid, hot, casual clothing, and flip flops.

Why is health important to you?

Health is important to me because it is a reflection of the balance between the individual and the environment the individual lives in.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy gardening, home improvement projects, and going to the gym.

How did your career in public health begin?

In Cuba, where I received my education, there is a continuum of care between clinical to public health, with no differentiation between the two. In my first year of medical school, I found myself in a park across from a health center practicing vaccinations on an orange. This is where my career in public health began.

What do you love most about the public health work you do?

I love having the ability to engage in structural changes that can have a lasting effect on population health outcomes.

What do you find most challenging about public health?

Most challenging is the lack of funding and understanding of its crucial role.

What are your primary public health priorities?

My primary public health priorities include: establishing universal HPV vaccines in Connecticut, reducing new HIV infections by 25 percent, investments in drinking water infrastructure, local health integration, and CDC’s 6|18 Initiative.

What is your vision for the future of public health?

My vision is for public health to be an intrinsic part of a continuum of care.