CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director Dr. Sherri Young has a wide range of goals for the organization.
She said none are bigger than repairing relationships that may have been broken from the past administrations and restoring the organization’s meaning in communities.
Young, a Wyoming County native, began the as health officer and executive director on July 1.
“I feel there were some bad feelings and relationships with the county commission and the city,” she said.
“We are there for the communities, we are there for the cities. Repairing those relationships was the first thing I wanted to work on.”
Young said before she even took the job, she sat down with Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper and Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin in separate meetings.
She called both meeting “very positive” in working towards how the department can be a better service to their communities.
Young, who is the first woman to be the county’s first full-time health officer, said they have no plans to restart the program.
“We need to be very diligent and we are looking at avenues to partner with other people to increase our HIV testing and commit them to care so we have a direct line for the people that we would identify as being HIV positive,” she said.
Young said she knows it will take around a year to get fully oriented with the department but has other aspirations within the year.
She wants to make sure that Kanawha County is a place that everyone wants to live in with an outward focus.
“I’d like to reach out to the smaller communities. I would like to be there as a physician,” Young said. “One thing that we have discussed is the possibility of doing street rounds and actually going out and seeing patients, and providing services in those smaller communities.
“That would be a dream step for myself and be wonderful. I want to build programs and enhance everything that people have been doing so far and improve the relationships with our communities.”
Originally from Mullens, Young has a daughter and a husband.
She earned a bachelor of science in speech pathology and audiology at WVU and her doctorate of osteopathic medicine from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
After receiving her doctorate, she trained in family medicine at Charleston Area Medical Center.
While Young said the first week on the job has been great and continues to push towards her goals, she never imagined herself in this position.
“I think timing is everything in life,” she said.”I was at a point where I wanted to do something meaningful and wanted to give back to the communities.
“I see a need here where relationships need to be mended, improvements need to be made to make our communities healthier. It was just the right place at the right time.”