Voice: Supervisors will need to look for appropriate leader for health services

March 13, 2002

Please allow me to preface my entry by saying that Mr. Gloria has many a valid point.

However, I am not convinced that we should be too worried about Ms. Smith at the current time since she's probably on her way out. I trust that the board will act accordingly. And for the most part, as with most county programs, they are run by the subordinate staff who work long hours that include many nights and weekends so their supervisors don't have to.

Of course, many micro-managing administrators will disagree. However, I think we should be more concerned about who will be replacing Ms. Smith, since the future of public health in the Valley will largely be dependent upon the leadership of the director of health services.

The director sets the tone for which public health issues will be addressed adequately and prioritizes the allocation of sufficient resources to serve the common good. Yes, we have many state-mandated projects but some get more attention than others.


Budgets are not arbitrary as some would naively believe. Although many of us would like to believe that we, the people, dictate how our public health department is run, it will or should not surprise you that the director plays a powerful role in advocating for improved public health. It is ironic, though, that this power has come to manifest itself in unexpected ways.

Idealistically, I am sure most will agree the board has an obligation to appoint someone who is competent with a management style characterized by more modern standards. Personally, I would hope the board be astute enough to differentiate between future candidates who are more likely to "talk the talk" than to walk it.

Not only should the future director demonstrate the ability for providing for his/her own family's health, but also feel a kinship responsibility for all families who reside in Imperial County.

In addition, his/her cultural and professional background should be reflective of the community. That is, knowing what it's like to grow up in the Valley presents a more realistic perception of the real challenges facing the health of children and their families.

The director should be able to apply sound principles of health services administration as well as be able to address local health problems by supporting public policies, advocating for resources and implementing cost-effective programs.

(S)he must prioritize based on current need and be able to demonstrate that need by incorporating public input. The director should not be racist or immoral since our community is so diverse and rich in moral standing.

Just as important, (s)he should never in any fashion look down upon the hand that feeds her/him for this is how we all sustain our existence. The director of the public health department should possess qualities not only desirable to the board and its constituents but especially to those who actually provide public health services at his/her direction. The program coordinators, nurses, technicians, outreach workers, clerks, etc., who have worked, are working, and who will work to improve public health in the Valley are looking for guidance and support from the director of public health services.

Most importantly, they are looking for a great leader. Remember, a great leader is not someone who makes it known that they are, by all appointed measures, the leader; but makes it seem like they are not leading at all.



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