Public well being director displays on time within the Cedar Valley

Public well being director displays on time within the Cedar Valley

WATERLOO — After six years on the helm of the Black Hawk County Public Well being Division, director Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye is stepping down.

Her final day is Friday. Egbounye is leaving for a non-public sector job at Molina Healthcare of Iowa, the place she would be the affiliate vice chairman of neighborhood engagement.

“Molina is giving me the chance to grasp Medicaid implementation and to develop data on neighborhood engagement,” Egbuonye stated. “That’s an essential ability set to have as somebody who’s deeply invested in inhabitants well being outcomes.”

Neighborhood is the explanation Egbuonye got here to Black Hawk County, she instructed the Courier in 2016.

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Egbuonye, age 39, obtained her doctorate diploma from Texas A&M College in School Station, Texas, and her grasp’s and undergraduate levels from San Diego State College. She was born within the West African nation of Niger, and was raised in Illinois and School Station.

Whereas in San Diego, she labored with the refugee and immigrant inhabitants. Black Hawk County has its personal refugee inhabitants, which additionally drew her right here as a fellow immigrant.

“After I accepted this place, I used to be scared. Not as a result of I wasn’t succesful, however as a result of I used to be the primary of many issues,” Egbuonye stated at Tuesday’s Black Hawk County Supervisors assembly. “The primary Black, the primary Black immigrant and the primary Black girl to guide the Black Hawk County Well being Division.”

She stated she is the primary of those descriptors for your complete state of Iowa.

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Egbuonye stated she was recruited to restructure the well being division with the aim of gaining public well being accreditation. She achieved this stuff whereas navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the peak of the pandemic, no two days had been the identical for the general public well being division.

“Main the pandemic was onerous,” Egbuonye stated in an interview. “However it gave the neighborhood a chance to see what we do and why our position and providers are essential in the neighborhood.”

When speaking with the general public about COVID-19, she took herself out of the science world and “into the folks’s sneakers.”

“My duty was: How do I talk in an efficient technique to get the message throughout, absorbed and understood by folks of all backgrounds, schooling ranges and ages … in addition to telling the neighborhood I really feel their ache and their discomfort and their fears,” she stated.

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Earlier this 12 months, when COVID-19 was operating rampant, the general public well being division was awarded nationwide accreditation from the Public Well being Accreditation Board. The method takes a number of years and exhibits how the division carries out important providers, manages its division and communications with the county, and the way it serves the neighborhood.

Black Hawk County is one in all six county well being departments in Iowa to be acknowledged together with the state’s public well being division, in accordance with PHAB.

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Egbuonye stated an important factor she realized throughout her tenure was that not everybody understands public well being — even elected officers.

“I by no means understood the magnitude wherein public well being could possibly be politicized,” she stated. “I feel that’s been the largest lesson, and it’s taught me to not shrink back from politics. … It’s a lesson I’ll carry with myself wherever I am going,”

She additionally addressed the Board of Supervisors for the final time in her official capability. She urged member to replicate on the county’s duties.

“It’s very true that elected officers have fiscal duty. It’s additionally very true that elected officers have the duty to strengthen our county’s infrastructure,” she instructed the supervisors. “Each points are equally essential and it’s this board’s duty to strike this stability; a stability I’ve discovered to be very tough to realize when there isn’t a collaboration, effectivity or adaptability.”

Egbuonye stated the Board of Well being has began its seek for a brand new director. The interim director will probably be Kaitlin Emrich, who’s presently the deputy director on the public well being division.