County health commissioner retires

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

Dr. Jim Herman is retiring as Madison County health commissioner. An open house in his honor will be held on Sept. 3. 

The Madison County/London City Health District is looking for a new health commissioner.

After 17 years at the job, Dr. Jim Herman is retiring on Aug. 31. The public is invited to an open house at the health district, 306 Lafayette St. in London, from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 3.

Herman became a veterinarian in 1958, earning his degree from The Ohio State University. He practiced in Mechanicsburg before joining Dr. Warren Amling at the London Animal Hospital in 1960. Two years later, Herman bought Amling’s share of the business.

When he put his hat in the ring for health commissioner in late 1991, Herman said he was looking for a new challenge.

“I was in practice at the time and had taken on a partner. I thought I’d do something different,” he said.

The health district’s annual budget was $183,000. Now, it’s over $1 million. Much has changed.

“We have added 14 new people to the staff (over the years),” Herman said. “That is reflected in additions of services like senior citizens visits by nurses, which have quadrupled since we passed the levy seven and a half years ago.”

The increase in staffing also has allowed for an oral health nurse to visit school children each year, the addition of a third sanitarian, and improvements to Madison County’s public health infrastructure.

The infrastructure refers to the plans the health district has in place in the case of floods, pandemic flu, tornados and other large-scale emergencies. The plans were made in conjunction with the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, which was formed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Herman also has been part of the health district’s changes in facilities—from the building on North Oak Street and the annex in the Wheeler Building to the new offices on Lafayette Street.

“It’s still not big enough, but it’s so much better,” he said of the new space.

Herman, 75, has been on medical leave since February and is retiring for health reasons. He stopped practicing veterinary medicine 12 years ago. He and his wife, Mary Anne, live in London.

“I’ve had a real fun time with the health department. We have a health department that’s running pretty smooth,” he said.

Linda Houser, president of the district’s board of directors, said Herman will be missed.

“I like Doc, and I think he’s been a great health commissioner. He’s going to be a tough one to follow…I wish him the best,” Houser said.

The board of directors met on Aug. 28 to begin reviewing resumés to find Herman’s replacement. The position likely will remain part-time, Houser said.

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