Q&A with NACCHO Board Member Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, RN, MPH, Prineville, OR

2017 National Public Health Week Celebration!

National Public Health Week is April 3-9, 2017. Please join us as we celebrate the power of prevention, advocating for healthy and fair policies, sharing strategies for successful partnerships and championing the role of a strong public health system. Here is one in a series of interviews with members of our Board of Directors as they tell us why they joined the profession and describe their successes.

Q. Ms. DeLaVergne-Brown, what is your job title, where are you employed and what are your primary duties?

I am the Crook County Health & Human Services Director, Crook County – Prineville, Oregon. My primary duties are participating in community work, overseeing programming, budgeting, and staff members who work to improve health in Crook County.  

Q. Why did you choose public health as your career? 

My path to public health was a winding trail.  I started my career as a school nurse and taught health occupations for 12 years, and then decided to move to a more traditional public health role for Lane County.  After a year in Lane County, I  moved to management position in Douglas County for five and a half years years and then Deschutes County in Bend, Oregon for eight and a half years.  I was very fortunate to be hired for the Crook County Director position in March of 2008 and have been with the department ever since.  A rural community health department is where I belong.  

Q. One of the most pressing current concerns in public health is the potential loss of Prevention and Public Health Fund. How would this affect your health department and community?

The State of Oregon would lose at least $46,462,400 to counter health crises over the next five years.  For Crook County, this would mean a loss of funding for immunizations, infectious disease prevention, public health lab capacity (state), chronic disease prevention, and support provided to local health department from State Public Health.   The Centers for Disease Control stands to lose 12 percent of its annual budget and many of those dollars flow to states and counties like ours.  It would be devastating to our community’s ability to respond to public health events.

Q. What is the proudest moment of your career? 

I have had a lot of proud moments. . .  In every position I have been in, I have had opportunity to meet amazing people and work to “make a difference” in communities.  This is what it’s about for me.  Whether it’s facilitating a focus group of seniors in Douglas County to improve diabetes care; starting the Public Health Preparedness Program in Deschutes County, or empowering Crook County staff to become one of the smallest PHAB accredited health departments in 2014.  I would also say, it was exciting to serve as the Chair of the Coalition of Local Health Officials in Oregon during the development of the Modernization of Public Health Plan and preparing for the future in a new and modern way.