MOV health director Mace assumes helm

PARKERSBURG – With more than 20 years of experience in the West Virginia public health field, Drema Mace is the new executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.

Mace, a Boone County native, assumed the helm from Finance Director Sandra Ellenwood who had been serving as interim director since Dick Wittberg resigned in the spring. Mace was introduced to the community on Monday and the appointment was effective Aug. 1

“I am really glad to be here and I’m looking forward to working with such a dedicated staff. The public in public health care is people. I’m very community-oriented and looking foward to living here, and getting out into the community,” Mace said.

Mace has a master’s degree in Public Service Management from Cumberland University in Tennessee and a doctorate in Human Services with a specialization in Health Care Administration from Capella University.

“I have over 20 years experience with the Bureau for Public Health with the state of West Virginia. I held several positions with the bureau over that time period. At one time I ran the office of EMS, and I was associate director of the Office of Community Health Systems and Health Promotion,” she said.

She worked her way up the ranks. At one time she supervised social workers in Region 5.

“My first position with the state was a case aid,” she said.

Mace said after learning of the opportunity in Wood County she decided to apply for the directorship position.

“The opportunity to be the executive director for the largest public health system in the state brought me here,” she said.

Mace said she worked in Tennessee for 14 years, working in state government, then in the office of Infectious Diseases later taking on a job at Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Centers in their Infectious Diseases Clinic.

“A lot of my public health background is in HIVAIDS and other infectious diseases,” Mace said.

She came back to West Virginia in 2010 to be closer to family after her husband became ill. She has a daughter and granddaughter who live in Charleston.

“This is a good opportunity for me to move forward,” she said.

Mace said initially she wants to review the department to assure it is in compliance with all state health codes and regulations and “continue the good work that has already been established.”

She said she isn’t planning any personnel changes.

“The Mid-Ohio Valley is very innovative, they think outside the box to ensure good health care, and I want to be part of that,” Mace said of the department.

The new director said she will be reviewing programming and administration in her first few days on the job.

“Of course any changes would go to the board of directors, I would make recommendations, but the board would make the final decisions,” she said.

Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch, chairman of the health department board, said the department received 12 applications when the search began for a new director. A final hree were selected and a committee of the board interviewed them.

“Dr. Mace finished first and we offered her the job,” Couch said. “We’ve been blessed to have Sandra (Ellenwood) to provide continuity and she will be working closely with Dr. Mace.”

Couch said Mace is the first female director since the merger into a regional department took place.

“We (the state) rank number one in so many categories, obesity, childhood diabetes, smoking, and we keep trying to improve public health. It’s very complicated, there’s not one simple answer, there are so many community organizations we partner with and the department has so many different functions,” Couch said. “We have a multitude of counties, some that are very rural and have very different needs. Dr. Mace brings a statewide look. Her abilities will enable us to better integrate our different departments and meet the challenges of the future,” he said.

“This is a huge opportunity for the health department, while Dr. Wittberg certainly had the public’s interest at heart, we’ve brought someone in that I think has the ability to move us forward in a meaningful way,” he said.

The health department, headquartered at 211 Sixth St., Parkersburg offers a myriad of services and programs including clinical services such as immunizations; environmental health; epidemiology; health and wellness; the Women, Infant Children’s Program and Threat Preparedness.

The department serves Wood, Calhoun, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt counties and the city of Parkersburg. The WIC program serves additional counties.