News Details

Gloucester & Salem County to Share Public Health Officer

(Woodbury, NJ) - Adding to the growing number of services that county governments are sharing, Gloucester and Salem Counties announced today that they will be sharing a Public Health Officer beginning on July 1, 2010.
Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney said that Virginia Preesada, Gloucester County's recently hired Public Health Officer will share her time with Gloucester County and Salem County. Gloucester County will maintain the employment of Public Health Officer Virginia Preesada, and Salem/Cumberland County will reimburse Gloucester County fifty percent of her salary and benefits.
New Jersey requires County Departments' of Health to have a licensed Public Health Officer. They serve as lead liaison between the County Health Department and the State Department of Health, and are responsible for preparing reports and establishing and maintaining related files and records. The Health Officer, through contract with the local municipal boards of health, serves as the general agent for the enforcement of their health ordinances and health laws of the state. The Health Officer participates in evaluating public health services, problems and needs, works with community groups to help them to recognize their public health problems and concerns and comes up with methods and a general plan to help solve issues. "We have been working with our neighboring counties to go beyond the boundaries of a map to deliver services and save taxpayer dollars," said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney. "We have evaluated this position very carefully to make sure that the work required could be accomplished. Both counties have an existing support infrastructure that makes it possible for us to share this position," Sweeney
said.
"Gloucester and Salem Counties have a great partnership and understand each others' needs. There are many services that are right for sharing, and when they are right we will work together to offer the best for our residents while eliminating each county paying a salary and benefits," stated Director Sweeney Gloucester and Salem Counties share a Mental Health Administrator and Gloucester County provides Medical Examiner Services to Salem County. Gloucester and Salem County recently signed an agreement where Salem County will house Gloucester County's female inmates beginning in August.
Salem County Freeholder Director Lee Ware said, "Public Health is a very important aspect of county government. I know that both Salem and Gloucester Counties place great value in the public health of its residents and that we will continue to provide excellent services to our citizens and our local municipalities."
"Our new Public Health Officer is energetic and brings with her experience from both the public and private sectors. We have been in the planning stages with Salem County to share this service, so we had in our plans that when we hired a new Public Health Officer they would provide services for both counties," said Freeholder Jean DuBois, liaison to the Gloucester County Department of Health.
Salem County Freeholder, Dale A. Cross, Chair of the County Health Committee stated, "Currently Cumberland and Salem County share a Health Department which is overseen by a shared Public Health Coordinator and a department head. There are also several staff members which are shared. The shared services agreement is being crafted in consultation with all parties to ensure that no one will lose their position as a result of this merger. We will only be sharing a Public Health Coordinator among the three counties, but the State will view our three health departments as one department with three offices. As of now, Salem and Cumberland will remain merged as one office, with Gloucester County Department of Health being the lead agency. This is a win/win for all involved." DuBois said that Virginia Preesada is bilingual and a NJ Licensed Health Officer, she is a NJ registeredEnvironmental Health Specialist and a Certified Health Education Specialist, and holds an MS from New Jersey City University in Health Sciences, Health Education. She is in the process of relocating to the area. Gloucester County's previous Health Officer had retired on December 31, 2009.