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Young ready for next public health challenge

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Sherri Young, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director and Chief Health Officer has many memories of her time leading the state’s most populous county through health troubles.

Much of them have to do with COVID-19, as months after Young took the job in 2019 the global pandemic struck. Young recalled memories from the job and what it took fighting the virus on Tuesday’s 580-LIVE on 580-WCHS. She announced on Monday she would be resigning from the job.

Sherri Young

“At first we didn’t know anything about COVID. We had to build this as we flew it. We had to figure out what this virus was. How to test for it, how to treat it, how to keep people safe. Do we wear masks, do we not wear masks,” Young said of how proud she was of her team, on day 485 of health command.

Before she was named to the role on July 1, 2019 said she wanted to give back to the community and have a purpose after surviving a home explosion.

She said she was more than able to do so during her time with KCHD, working on health issues such as vaping, kids in hot cars and flu shots before COVID-19 arrived.

From the time the pandemic began, Young said she was most proud of doing community medicine.

“One of the most rewarding things I have been able to do in COVID is working with homeless shelters. Literally going out onto the streets, going under bridges providing wound care. Going out to tent cities. Getting vaccinations out to these individuals. I want to continue to do community medicine,” Young said.

Young said community medicine will be a focus of her position, Associate Chief Medical Officer for West Virginia Health Network at CAMC. She said it’s an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) position that is patient-oriented, physician-led care to try and keep people safe at home.

Young also noted her most proud moments on the job were seeing cars lining the streets for COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics. She said the first time she gave a COVID-19 vaccination, she “cried like a baby.”

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said on Monday that Young has been nationally recognized by ABC News, The New York Times, and Time Magazine for her unprecedented efforts to save lives throughout the county.

Young will stay in the position until the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health can find a replacement.

She continued to encourage the public to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if they have not done so.

“If you are vaccinated eligible, get that vaccine,” she said on 580-LIVE. “Not only for yourself but your obligation to the people around you. The people that can’t get the shot, the people who are too young to get the shot.”

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