Faces of Local Public Health: Carol M. Smith

August 1, 2018 | By: Lindsey Santamaria

Ulster Smith Carol

Submitter: Sarah Ravenhall, sarah@nysacho.org

Nominee: Carol M. Smith, MD, MPH, Commissioner of Health and Mental Health, Ulster County Health Department

Health Department: Ulster County Health Department, Kingston, NY

Why is Carol the August 2018 Face of Local Public Health?

As Commissioner of Health and Mental Health, Dr. Carol Smith is dedicated to protecting and improving the health of residents in Ulster County, New York. Within her dual-role she oversees both health and mental health, positioning herself as true public health leader and advocate in New York State. Serving as President of the New York State Association of County Health Officials (NYSACHO) 2017-18, Dr. Smith has worked with the State and Legislators to bring visibility to the value of public health core public health services.

During her tenure as President, she led NYSACHO through a leadership transition, delivered budget testimony to the joint legislative branches, developed a proposal for an incentive grant to support local health departments in their efforts to address the epidemic of opioid addiction in their counties, and worked with community partners to successfully restore a proposed 20% budget cut to public health programs. At the local level, Dr. Smith has collaborated with the Ulster County Executive, Mike Hein, to successfully advance a proactive and effective Prevention Agenda, and expanded the scope of traditional health activities.

Highlights from her long list of accomplishments include the successful adoption of a local law to raise the age for the purchase of tobacco products from 18 to 21, which also supplements an earlier measure that prohibits the issuance of a county license to any new tobacco retailer seeking to locate within 1000' of a K-12 school in Ulster County. To broaden the reach of community engagement and public health messaging, Dr. Smith also co-hosts and co-produces Healthy Ulster Radio, a unique weekly program that explores community health improvement in all of its dimensions and features guests representing a wide range of backgrounds, interests and sectors.

This year, Healthy Ulster Radio welcomed NYS Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker as a special guest as part of National Public Health Week. Dr. Smith recently convened a new, community-wide Opioid Prevention Task Force designed to significantly reduce opioid overdoses and fatalities within a 2-year timeframe. Under Dr. Smith's leadership, the Ulster County Department of Health and Mental Health continues to improve its systems, strategies and actions to remain ahead of the curve and improve the lives of well-being of every person it serves.

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