ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County's new director of public health is officially on the job.
Linda Beers was sworn in during Monday's board of supervisors meeting following a unanimous vote by county lawmakers. She takes over for interim Public Health Director Kathy Daggett, who was appointed earlier this year to fill in for Karen Levison. Levison left the post to take a job as public health commissioner in Saratoga County.
"I'm thrilled and honored," Beers told the Enterprise. "I look forward to the challenges of public health in the years to come."
Linda Beers, front left, is sworn in as director of Essex County Public Health by Essex County Board of Supervisors Clerk Deb Palmer. She’s joined by family friend Connie Bluteau, back left, father William Bolz, back center, and son Mitchell.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
Beers, who previously served as director of child services for Essex County, said the Department of Public Health, like most county departments, must find a way to offer the best possible service in the face of a bleak fiscal outlook.
Unforeseen public health issues, like last year's H1N1 flu outbreak, also present challenges for public health departments, Beers said.
"But we have a great staff," she said. "They are well trained."
Beers has a background in special education, specifically in working with people with disabilities. She also ran a traumatic brain injury program, which she said gave her critical experience handling Medicaid and Medicare funding.
Beers said unfunded state mandates have a big impact on public health departments, but she said reform may be coming.
"We won't know what it looks like until it gets here," Beers said. "There's definitely talk all around about Medicaid, and that's probably one of the biggest issues. It's about trying to recoup the most money we can to get the funding that's allotted to us."
Beers will receive an annual salary of $78,000.
Following Beers' appointment, supervisors passed a resolution thanking Daggett for assuming the temporary duties of public health director.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.