Originally published on Oct. 3, 2011
On Monday, September 26, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) made history as its nine-member Board of Health met for orientation. DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., announced that she was honored to present the distinguished board members and to share their passion for public health and the work that we do for Georgians. All Board of Health members were present and introduced. They are: Kathryn K. Cheek, M.D., F.A.A.P.; James W. Curran, M.D.; Cynthia F. Greene , DMD; Robert S. Harshman, M.D.; Gary D. Nelson, Ph.D; Mitch Rodriguez, M.D.; James M. Smith, Ph.D; Donald W. Venn, II, Colonel (Retired) M.Ed; and Phillip L. Williams, Ph.D.
The Executive Leadership Team reviewed pertinent information with Board members and introduced key staff. Sid Barrett, General Counsel, reviewed their first order of business which will be to elect a Chair and adopt by-laws. Like with any new Board, policies and procedures are essential to establishing the rules of engagement and business. Chief of Staff James Howgate introduced the ELT and reviewed the DPH Strategic Plan for health outcomes and infrastructure. Obesity was among the top priorities in the DPH Strategic Plan as well as tobacco, immunization and infant mortality.
State Epidemiologist Cherie L. Drenzek, D.V.M., MS, presented on behalf of J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., Director of Health Protection, and provided an overview of the Division of Health Protection, which includes environmental health, epidemiology, as well as infectious disease and immunization. Carole Jakeway, RN, Director of District and County Operations, provided an overview of roles and organizational structure of county, district and state offices.
Yvette Daniels, Director of Health Promotion, provided a brief overview of the Division of Health Promotion. Brian Castrucci, MPH, Director of Maternal and Child Health, and Kimberly Redding, M.D., MPH, Director of Healthy Promotion and Disease Prevention, presented specific programmatic overviews.
Kathryn Pfirman, CPA, Chief Financial Officer, presented the most challenging overview to the Board members, the budget. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget requested a two percent state-wide budget reduction from all state agencies, or $3.47 million DPH must reduce from its FY12 and FY13 budgets. Pfirman showed the Board ways DPH is finding and using alternative resources to cover the reduction.
Nancy Pisor, Director of Human Resources, concluded the orientation with the required human resources paperwork for new Board members.
Based on the type of questions within the four hours from Board members, Commissioner Fitzgerald has a dedicated team who is ready to listen, roll up their sleeves, and go to work to make Georgians healthy and safe.