Staff writer Simrann Wadhwa spoke with recently-named Health Director of the Orange County Health Department Quintana Stewart about her future plans.
Daily Tar Heel: Why were you interested in this position?
Quintana Stewart: So I was interested in Orange County health director position specifically just because Orange County is known across our state as being innovators, the forerunners with their public health work. When I saw the opportunity to apply for the director position I just thought that was a dream come true. I’ve been working with local health departments for 16 years, and that’s the next step for me. I’m currently serving as an assistant in Forsyth County. So it was just a dream to be able to go work in a community with staff and local government that really supports the local public health department.
DTH: What educational and professional experiences have you had before this position?
QS: My undergraduate degree is in community health education, and I got that from UNC-Greensboro. Then, I went back to school and got a master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Health Care Administration from UNC-Pembroke. Again as I said, I’ve worked for Forsyth County Department of Health for a little over 16 years now and I’ve had a chance to work in several different positions. I started as a health educator, and I moved my way on up to the Disaster Preparedness Coordinator position — from there, assistant Health Director.
DTH: What issues do you want to tackle most as the new health director?
QS: I think coming in, health department staff has done a great job with their community health assessment. They’ve already worked through a lot of their primary and secondary engagement in the community, they identify what their priority health issues are. So as a new director, I plan to come in and continue with those efforts. One of their top priority issues was social determinants of health, and they’re looking at access and poverty specifically. The next one was mental health and substance abuse and then activity and nutrition. I plan to come in and meet with the board of health and figure out their plans. I don’t want to come in and make any abrupt changes because I think they’ll already lay a pretty strong foundation framework on those health priority issues.
DTH: What is your overall vision for the Orange County Health Department?
QS: I just plan to maintain (its) current reputation. I want us to continue to find some out-of-the-box kind of things with that spirit of innovation. I just want us to be seen in the community, be part of the community, so I’m all about developing healthy communities.That is my vision for Orange County — maintain that top number one health outcome in the county health rankings.
DTH: Is there anything else Orange County residents should know about you?
QS: I’m really excited. It’s hard to stay focused here in Forsyth because I’m so excited to come to Orange County and meeting all the new team members, and just jumping in.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.