Originally published Aug. 28, 2011
On Wednesday, August 24, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) transition team and about one hundred people gathered in the Rotunda at the Capitol to receive recognition from Governor Nathan Deal and legislators for a smooth transition from the Department of Community Health (DCH). Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the first Commissioner for DPH, opened the ceremony applauding the efforts of every staff member who continued working attentively on public health issues amidst the transition. Even with challenges, which included tornadoes in north Georgia and dealing with tuberculosis in the state, DPH staff members carried out the duties of their positions with efficiency and diligence.
Governor Deal emphasized the newly formed agency allows the state to tackle public health issues more effectively and gives Georgia the opportunity to regain its leadership nationwide in various public health categories. “It is great to have a governor that understands the importance of healthcare,” said Representative Mickey Channell, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and House sponsor of HB 214, which established DPH as its own state agency.
The role that public health staff members played in the transition was repeatedly commended by everyone that took the podium. “Governor Deal made a great choice selecting Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as the first Commissioner of the Department of Public Health,” said Channell. “If you like what you do, and you’re good at it, you will be successful,” he continued, praising Dr. Fitzgerald.
Dr. Fitzgerald spoke of some 1,149 projects completed related to the transition. “You have some remarkable people in Georgia’s public health employees,” said Dr. Fitzgerald in her acknowledgement to Governor Deal. “Thank you for your commitment to ensure that life in Georgia is better,” Fitzgerald concluded.
Senator Renee Unterman, Chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and Senate sponsor of HB 214, described the development of and transition to DPH as a “dream come true.” She praised public health professionals for carrying the majority of the burden during the transition since many legislators were campaigning and the Office of the Governor transitioned from Sonny Perdue to Nathan Deal. Described as “passionate about public health” by Representative Channell, Unterman identified areas that she would like to see Georgia regain leadership in across the nation, including infant mortality, immunization, and obesity.
“To have a prosperous Georgia, you have to have a healthy Georgia,” said Representative Sharon Cooper, Chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee and House sponsor of HB 214. It was clear that a healthy Georgia was the goal of every person in attendance.
To view photos of the event, please visit Governor Deal’s photo gallery.