The board will operate as a support structure for the health department, offering evaluations for the overall health of residents and guidance for department officials.
It will consist of five members, which were required by the county commission to include two physicians, a dentist, pharmacist, registered nurse and veterinarian. The current members were selected by Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris and confirmed by county commissioners.
Jon McCullers will be the 2022 chair of the board. The group chose him at its first meeting and he is the senior executive associate dean of clinical affairs and chair of the department of pediatrics for the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
“The COVID-19 crisis showed that the Health Department could benefit from external, expert assessment and advice, and the mayor and county commission last year voted to reconstitute it,” McCullers said in a press release. “Important topics are under discussion, including provisions of mental and behavioral health services in Shelby County and approaches to mitigating the impact of community violence through public health initiatives.”
Charlie Caswell, Carla Kirkland, Mary Manspeaker, Shelby County Health Director Michelle Taylor and Shelby County Health Officer Bruce Randolph round out the board’s newly appointed members.
Caswell is the executive director of Legacy of Legends CDC, which is a program that partners with community members to mitigate adverse childhood experiences to educate Shelby County residents about proper trauma response and care.
Kirkland is a nurse practitioner at St. Francis Memphis Emergency Department and has experience as a critical care nurse and nurse practitioner for internal and emergency medicine.
Manspeaker practices small animal medicine and surgery. She also works with animal welfare organizations to provide preventative care for underserved communities in Shelby County and across the globe.
Though it has not been a facet of the health department for over a century, the Board of Health is not a new concept. It was abolished in 1911 and will new hold quarterly meetings.
“Establishing a Board of Health for the Shelby County Health Department is a critical milestone in developing and creating meaningful initiatives to improve the quality of life for all residents,” Taylor said. “I am excited to work with this diverse group of leaders who have proven to be committed to building a community where everyone is safe, healthy and valued.”
Lucas Finton is a news reporter with The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.com and followed on Twitter @LucasFinton.