December 3, 2022

LANSING — More than a third of Michigan’s top county health officers resigned in the past year, many as the result of dealing with the pressures of the pandemic. 

Norm Hess, the executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health, said as information on COVID-19 changed daily, public health officers took the blame for a lot of the inconsistencies and experienced burnout.

“There were many times where no matter what decision they made, half of their community would be supportive and the other half would be ready to break bottles over their head,” Hess said.

Fifteen of Michigan’s 42 local public health officers left within the past year, he said.

Lenawee County Health Officer Martha Hall, center, addresses audience members Sept. 8, 2021, during a special meeting of the Lenawee County Board of Health. Hall resigned as health officer on March 31, 2022, one of 15 health officers in Michigan who have resigned in the past year. Seated beside Hall are board of health secretary Angie Carlton and now-retired Lenawee County Administrator Martin Marshall. The county health department is operating with an acting health officer.

Public health officers assess the needs of the community and implement policies based on those assessments.

Burnout and stress have created a need to fill public health positions.

Many people in local public health are retiring to switch career paths or for political reasons, and those positions need to be filled pretty quickly, said Mary Kushion, the internship coordinator for the master’s program in public health accreditation at Central Michigan University

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