As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the one-year mark in Jeffco, the agency in charge of leading the county's response is getting a new leader. Last week, former epidemiology professor Dr. Dawn Comstock …
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As the COVID-19 pandemic nears the one-year mark in Jeffco, the agency in charge of leading the county's response is getting a new leader.
Last week, former epidemiology professor Dr. Dawn Comstock started her new role as the executive director of Jefferson County Public Health.According to a press release from JCPH, Comstock comes to JCPH from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz and the Program for Injury, Prevention, Education and Research.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has also worked with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, assisting with its COVID-19 response activities, including case investigation and contact tracing efforts. The release states that this experience emphasized to Comstock “the need for robust health equity work and accentuated her own passion for these efforts.”
“I am adamant that we must identify innovative methods to address equity issues,” Comstock said. “While a physician cares for the health of an individual, we in public health care for the entire population.”
Comstock said in the release that her most immediate goal is “to finish the COVID-19 work and get the pandemic resolved.” From there, she hopes to build a “robust and nimble public health department for the future” by learning from the lessons of the pandemic and its challenges.
To that end, Comstock said in the release that the department's efforts will continue to center on promoting preventive efforts, including mask wearing, six feet social distancing and frequent hand washing.
“Additionally, one of our points of emphasis over the upcoming months will be to address equity issues in vaccine distribution to ensure those in Jefferson County's traditionally underserved populations have access to vaccination,” Comstock said in the release. “Moving forward post-pandemic, I look forward to leading JCPH efforts to continue to address the day-to-day needs of our community while anticipating and preparing for the next public health emergency.”
Before joining the Colorado School of Public Health, Comstock worked at Ohio State University and the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Naval Health Research Center.
She's also worked at the he Environmental Health Services Branch of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health and as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer assigned by the CDC as a liaison to the Oklahoma State Department of Health Injury Prevention Service.
Comstock received her bachelor's degree in microbiology from Colorado State University, her master's degree in epidemiology from the University of Iowa and her doctorate in public health epidemiology from the University of California San Diego/San Diego State University.
“Dr. Comstock's background in academia, research, and applied public health position her well to take on the variety of challenges she will face as Executive Director,” said Greg Deranleau, president of the Jefferson County Board of Health, said in the release. “Her passion, vision and zeal for public health equity will inspire the Jefferson County Public Health team to great achievements. Her values, collaboration and innovation will inspire trust within JCPH and in our community.”
In 2017, Comstock accepted an invitation to serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The board advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Director of the CDC and the Director of NCIPC.
Also in 2017, Comstock accepted a position on the Jefferson County Board of Health, where she served the people of Jeffco and had a front-row seat into the inner workings of JCPH and the important work done at the health department.
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