- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
County government officials announced Tuesday afternoon that Dr. Dianna E. Abney has been promoted from acting health officer to holding the position.
Abney took over as acting officer of the Charles County Department of Health from interim officer Faye Reed in December, following former officer Dr. Chinnadurai Devadason’s retirement in June. He died in August.
In a January interview, Abney said the state establishment of a “health enterprise zone” on the county’s western side was among her top priorities. Although the area did not receive the state designation, Abney said Wednesday that it does not affect her desire to continue focusing on the area, which contains Indian Head, Bryans Road, Nanjemoy and Marbury.
“If and when it’s offered again, we certainly will apply for it again,” Abney said when asked if she intended to keep fighting for the HEZ designation. “These first ones issued were just the very beginning. I don’t intend to sit and wait. ... I’m looking for other funding opportunities to make a difference in our county’s health, specifically that we’re looking to address health care disparities in our county.”
Abney said she also plans to “enhance” department programs that already exist to better serve the population in Charles County.
“It’s ensuring that the programs are running and running well ... to make them more robust,” Abney said. “It’s making sure people know all the things that the health department does. We do more than give immunizations and things like that.”
Abney said she feels that many citizens may be unaware that the department’s services go beyond the scope of what is commonly seen.
“We do things that impact lives every day, like license restaurants ... so people don’t have to wonder about the food that they’re eating,” Abney said, adding that some members of the department also test the water along coastlines in the county to ensure that it is safe for swimming. “I don’t know that a lot of people know we also have a large mental health practice. ... We do more than provide a safety net. Charles County does indeed have a full-service health department.”
Abney said she did not imagine her duties would shift much now that she has assumed the health officer position.
Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said Thursday that she was “delighted” with Abney’s appointment.
“She’s been a dedicated volunteer and physician,” Kelly said. “She brings lots of energy and new ideas, and with the Affordable Care Act taking effect in 2014, I think we’ll need that. She could guide the department. Her talent for being innovative and progressive is well-documented in my experience with her.”
Abney’s new position became effective Wednesday.