Focus will be on protecting public health in face of shrinking budgets
StoryAt its first meeting of the New Year, the members of the King County Board of Health elected Metropolitan King County Councilmember Joe McDermott Board Chair for 2011. McDermott was appointed to the Board of Health after joining the Council last November.
McDermott said the challenge facing public health agencies throughout the region is continuing to deliver health services in the age of shrinking funds. Last week, Public Health - Seattle & King County announced the layoff of over 120 Public Health employees who provide and support maternity support services for at risk mothers so their babies start healthy by reducing low birth weights, which can result in long and expensive hospital stays, life-long health problems or even death.
“More than a third of all pregnant women in King County depend on the County for their health care, so these cuts will have a long-term impact on the health of our communities,” said McDermott. “I will be working with the state Legislature to protect these critical services.”
“With his clear commitment and experience in working for healthier communities, I’m very much looking forward to working together with Councilmember McDermott in his new role as Board Chair to address our current crisis in public health service funding and other serious health threats,” said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
McDermott will replace Councilmember Julia Patterson, who is stepping down after five years as Board Chair.
“As the legislator who introduced the first Clean Indoor Air Act, I have been concerned about public health issues my entire career,” said McDermott. I look forward to continuing the work of Councilmember Patterson and the entire Board as we work to promote health around King County.”
McDermott joined the County Council in November 2010. He left the Washington State Legislature after joining the Council, where he served seven years in the state House
before being appointed and later elected to the state Senate. He was Senior Budget Analyst with the Seattle School District and has worked for former Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney John Ladenburg. McDermott has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs and holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Gonzaga University.
The Board of Health is responsible for setting county-wide public health policy, enacting and enforcing local public health regulations. The Board also plays a role in enforcing state public health statutes, preventing and controlling the spread of infectious disease, abating nuisances and establishing fee schedules for licenses, permits and other services.