Months after accepting the job as public health director in Yates County, Annmarie Flannagan has resigned. It was a difficult decision, but one that stemmed from constant opposition from some county legislators and members of the public as the fight against COVID-19 played out.
“The decision to leave was not one made quickly or taken lightly. In fact, I agonized over the decision for many months,” Flannagan told The Chronicle-Express this week. “Never in any scenario of life did I ever think that the pandemic and vaccination efforts would be such a central focus of a political firestorm. As a nurse practitioner I take an oath to ‘Do No Harm.’ Plans that were being put in place as directives from the New York State Health Department and CDC were under continuous scrutiny. There was continuous push back to not follow the guidelines of the state and the CDC.”
‘CONSTANT PUSH BACK’: FRUSTRATION GREW OVER MONTHS, CREATED MORAL CHALLENGE
She suggested that the constant pushback was among the biggest challenges during her time as public health director. “I am also a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. ‘Do No Harm’ is a critical piece of being a healthcare provider, one that I believe should not stop because I was a Director of Public Health,” she continued. “Yet everyday this was challenged. While I understand that everyone has a right to free speech and their opinions, those very voices became the central focus of the pandemic, and not stopping the spread of a disease. I set in place many transition plans to ensure the outstanding staff of Yates County Public Health would be able to continue the work needed to bring resolution to this pandemic.”
While the resignation takes effect on October 31 – she has reportedly been utilizing vacation time. Flannagan has accepted a teaching position at SUNY Binghamton.