SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Metropolitan Well being Division finds itself present process one other transition throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the unexpected resignation of Daybreak Emerick in June, Assistant Metropolis Supervisor Dr. Colleen Bridger delayed her departure to continue serving as Metro Well being’s interim director. After asserting her resignation again in December, Bridger confirmed that she’s going to proceed main metropolis efforts towards the pandemic because the COVID-19 Incident Commander whereas town begins to recruit a brand new director for Metro Well being.
Dr. Sandra Guerra, who had served as Metro Well being’s interim deputy public well being director since October, additionally stepped down from that put up and is now serving to Metro Well being in a part-time position. Household Service President and CEO Mary Garr might be Metro Well being’s interim director, whereas Bridger will oversee the pandemic response.
“We’re in a vital juncture within the struggle towards COVID-19, and asking a brand new well being director to imagine duty at this stage of the pandemic isn’t in the perfect pursuits of the neighborhood or the Metropolis of San Antonio group,” mentioned San Antonio Metropolis Supervisor Erik Walsh. “Dr. Bridger and I’ve reached an settlement that may enable us to keep up continuity and make the most of her public well being pandemic experience. As soon as once more, Colleen has answered the decision of obligation, and we as a neighborhood owe her an enormous debt of gratitude.”
The turnover at Metro Well being is a part of the biggest exodus of public well being leaders in American historical past, in response to an investigation by The Related Press and Kaiser Well being Information.
Since April, amid the best public well being disaster in a century, 181 state or native public well being leaders have resigned, retired, or been fired.
One in eight Individuals — 40 million individuals — lives in a neighborhood that has misplaced its native public well being division chief throughout the pandemic.
Most of the state and native officers left because of political blowback or pandemic stress. Some departed to take higher-profile positions or because of well being considerations. Others had been fired for poor efficiency. Dozens retired.
Collectively, the lack of experience and expertise has created a management vacuum within the occupation, public well being specialists say. Many well being departments are in flux because the nation rolls out the largest vaccination campaign in its history and faces what are anticipated to be the worst months of the pandemic.
“I’ve by no means seen or studied a pandemic that has been as politicized, as vitriolic and as challenged as this one, and I’ve studied plenty of epidemics,” mentioned Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian on the College of Michigan. “All of that has been very demoralizing for the women and men who don’t make an excessive amount of cash, don’t get plenty of fame, however work 24/7.”
In San Antonio, Emerick’s resignation got here in June, whereas COVID-19 circumstances had been starting to surge. The pandemic additional widened what already was a fractured working relationship between Emerick and Bridger.
“Since January 27, 2020, each Dr. Colleen Bridger and I’ve tried to work respectfully with each other and produce mutually aligned outcomes for the Metropolis of San Antonio and the two million individuals of Bexar County,” Emerick wrote. “It’s been a really tough journey for each of us.”
Bridger was set to depart her job with town on Jan. 8, 2021, however Guerra’s departure from the interim director put up might have led Bridger to remain on because the COVID-19 incident commander.
“We love Dr. Guerra, we actually beloved working along with her,” Bridger mentioned throughout Monday’s COVID-19 replace. “You already know, stuff occurs and she or he tell us that she was not in a position to keep on.”
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