Pima County’s new Public Health Director poised to tackle challengesby Pima County News on Nov. 29, 2012, under Uncategorized
Pima County’s new Public Health Director, Dr. Francisco A.R. Garcia, told the Pima County Board of Health Wednesday that he hopes to bring a unique perspective as he strives to find solutions to some of the health needs facing the community.
“It is with great enthusiasm and great happiness that I’ve accepted this huge challenge,” said Garcia, who attended medical school at the University of Arizona and who also holds a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
Speaking to the Pima County Board of Health, Garcia applauded the community’s strengths, including significant resources and supportive business interests. “We need to figure out how to bring them all together and start tackling some of these tough public health issues.”
The position is a new one for Pima County, essentially merging the functions of two separate positions after the retirements earlier this year of the County’s chief medical officer and the health department director.
Deputy Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher said members of the search committee were resigned to the reality that they might not get everything on their wish list. They wanted a candidate with a history in Tucson who knows the community, but still had a national perspective, especially given the changes that will be coming as federal health care reform takes shape. They hoped for someone who was not only a medical doctor, but who also had a strong grasp of public health policy.
Turns out the County won’t have to settle for either/or, she said. “We won the lottery,” Lesher said.
Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías, who sits on the health board, welcomed Garcia and agreed he does indeed have his work cut out for him. “It is a tremendous challenge that you face: declining revenues, declining grant funding, declining health. These are all situations we face here in Pima County,” he said, noting such challenges exist across the country.
Garcia will officially begin his new role Jan. 2, 2013, although he is already immersing himself in data and meeting key players.
He said he will be asking for input as he begins crafting an agenda that will set the stage for work to come in the near future.