Public health workers throughout the U.S. have been tested over the last 17 months. As the nation’s healthcare system was pushed to its limits during the peak of the COVID-19 public health crisis in 2020- public health workers filled the unintended void- keeping the public informed, holding testing clinics, then administering vaccines.
On Tuesday, the public heard for the first time that Seneca County Public Health Director Vickie Swinehart would be leaving her post later this year.
“Several weeks ago I was notified that the Board would not be re-appointing me to my position of public health director,” Swinehart said, while giving an update on the County’s work vaccinating residents. “I planned on retiring next May after I had 30 years of service, so I had a lot of thoughts about whether I should stay or go. I’ve decided that it’s time for my next chapter.”
The changeover will leave a number of questions for the County’s health department, which saw a significant loss of experience in 2020 during the pandemic. In fact, Swinehart said that the County lost five employees in 2020- which accounted for more than 100 years of service. “That was a huge challenge- and we worked through it,” Swinehart reflected while addressing the public at Tuesday’s meeting.
Swinehart expressed her desire to fulfill the promise of three-months notice as opposed to the traditional, two-week notice period. “I’ll be retiring in October- sometime in mid-October,” she continued. The final date will be established when she meets with the County’s human resources department.
“I don’t think it’s fair to give two weeks notice, even though that’s all that is required,” she added. “I’ve been in this position for a long time- and there’s a lot of transition that has to happen,” Swinehart continued. Her comments indicated that Deputy Director Scott King will fulfill her obligations after retiring. “I will continue working with him on the stuff that I work on that no one else really knows about,” she added.
Chairman Bob Hayssen, R-Varick, thanked Swinehart for her service over the career- as well as her service over the last 17 months during the pandemic. Supervisor Paul Kronenwetter, R-Seneca Falls, did as well.
No other supervisors spoke about the matter at conclusion of her remarks.