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Saturday February 4th

Orange County Health Department names interim health director

<p>Dorothy Cilenti is the interim health director of the Orange County Health Department.</p>
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Dorothy Cilenti is the interim health director of the Orange County Health Department.

Following the departure of Colleen Bridger, Dorothy Cilenti has been appointed as the new interim health director for the Orange County Health Department until a permanent replacement is hired. 

The position for health director closed for potential applicants on Jan. 31, and the health department will begin conducting interviews for a new director in the middle of March, said Stacy Shelp, spokesperson for the Orange County Health Department. 

Cilenti said she’s expecting the department to have a new health director by the end of June, at the latest.

Cilenti is a professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She has served as a health director for Chatham and Alamance counties. 

She has also previously served as the interim health director for Orange County in 2011.  

Bridger, the previous director of the health department, recently left to take a job as health director for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District in Texas.

Liska Lackey, chairperson for the Board of Health for Orange County, said the board approved Cilenti, who was recommended by Bridger. 

“She brings a wealth of experience and has served as interim health director previously, so we are in good hands,” Lackey said.

Cilenti said she is looking forward to having the opportunity to practice local public health.

“I really get energized by being part of community health improvement initiatives,” Cilenti said.

Shelp said Cilenti will not be making any changes to the current health department, but overseeing things and managing them as usual.

“The bonus of her working for UNC within Orange County is her understanding our partnerships and public health law,” Shelp said.

Lackey said they needed an interim director who could continue to promote the hard work of the staff and all the programs they had in place.

“We also need someone who has that leadership role in case events occur like the recent event with OWASA,” Lackey said.

During the recent water shortage in Chapel Hill, the Orange County Health Department played a crucial role in deciding to close down restaurants and businesses in Chapel Hill. 

“I have great confidence that (Cilenti) will be able to respond to any of the events that might occur,” Lackey said.

Cilenti said working with the health department helps keep her up to date with what is going on in the field as a professor.

“I feel that being in a practice setting in a local health department makes me a better professor in the classroom,” Cilenti said.

Lackey said having Cilenti work demonstrates a unique partnership between Orange County and the University.

“One of the obvious reasons in choosing Dorothy is that it further illustrates the strong relationship that the health department has with the University, a relationship that is of great value to both,” Lackey said. “We want to continue to nurture that.” 

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