Health Challenges

Mid-Ohio Valley residents may not notice immediate differences, as Drema Mace takes over the position of executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, and that is a good thing. Mace has said she plans to spend time reviewing the department for compliance with state health codes and regulations, and build on the good work that has already been established. That is a far better approach than to rush into town, looking for changes for changes’ sake.

Mace, a Boone County native who also worked for several years in Tennessee, has her work cut out for her, and it is important she build a clear understanding of the programming and administration in place before she makes decisions about what works and what has not.

“(West Virginia ranks) number one in so many categories: obesity, childhood diabetes, smoking; and we keep trying to improve public health,” said Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch, chairman of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department board of directors. “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.”

Ours is the largest public health system in the state, with a wide range of communities covered. Once she has gotten her bearings, Mace will need to draw on her full range of experiences – from the Office of Infectious Diseases in Tennessee to West Virginia’s Office of Community Health Systems and Health Promotion – to develop innovative and effective strategies for tackling health problems in a region that continually pops up on lists of the unhealthiest places in the country.

Mace described her new job as a good opportunity for her, but it has the potential to be very good for the Mid-Ohio Valley as well.