New health commissioner knows the territory

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Erin Fawley is Madison County’s new health commissioner.

(Posted March 2, 2022)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County has a new health commissioner.

Erin Fawley took up the reins in late December. She replaces Chris Cooke who held the position for five years. Cooke now serves as assistant health commissioner in Clark County.

“We were sad to see Chris go but very happy he was with us for as long as he was,” said Ruth Roddy, president of the Madison County London City Health District board.

Roddy praised Cooke’s leadership skills and said he was “just the person we needed” through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also served the community well prior to the pandemic, she said.

“That job is huge. I don’t think people realize what all goes into it. Erin is someone who does, having worked alongside Chris,” Roddy said, adding that Fawley’s familiarity with Madison County Public Health’s (MCPH) staff, departments and priorities has made for a smooth transition.

Fawley comes to the position with 10 years of experience in the public health field, including the past three years as director of community health and accreditation at MCPH.

Prior to her time at MCPH, Fawley worked for the community nutrition program at Ohio State University Extension-Greene County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and a master’s degree in public health, both from Ohio State University.

Since assuming the role of health commissioner, Fawley said her duties have shifted when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. In her previous position, she handled public information efforts, putting out public information releases, social media posts and website updates about the pandemic. She also reviewed plans for sports and community events to make sure they complied with state safety orders.

“Now, I’m taking a little more of a hands-on, leadership approach. Most of that deals with the changing CDC guidance–updating the public and stakeholders–with improvements were seeing with COVID recently,” she said.

Fawley’s workload also includes overseeing the resumption of the health department’s accreditation process. The public health accreditation board will conduct a site visit at the end of this month.

“We also have resumed compiling our community health improvement plan. It’s usually done every three years but was delayed due to COVID,” she said.

As the department goes through the planning process, they are taking into account the impact COVID-19 has had on everyone’s lives, from mental health to economic status.

“What we thought was a priority two years ago has changed and shifted,” Fawley said. “Things like transportation, economic impact, job field, and ‘The Great Resignation’ all factor into the plan.”

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