The COVID crisis has put a spotlight on an American institution that has a big role but, in normal times, a low profile: public health departments. Those agencies are central players in our country’s response to the virus threat.
During this extraordinary time, Douglas County has been fortunate to have a capable, professional leader of its health department, Adi Pour. Over the past year, she has stepped forward to fill a key public role, explaining the ever-changing public health conditions and needed responses. She has provided invaluable counsel to local elected officials.
In doing so, she has exhibited steady leadership at a time when it was most needed. COVID has brought tremendous uncertainty and created unimagined challenges for individuals, institutions and communities. In responding to these dire conditions, Pour has provided our community important guidance and reassurance through her science-based analysis and recommendations.
To describe her duties over the past year as challenging and stressful would be a major understatement. Pour, like public health leaders elsewhere, has faced backlash from critics decrying health experts’ recommendations for restrictions on gatherings and business operations. It was a difficult situation, no question, but public health officials have a responsibility to stick to what health science indicates to be appropriate community responses.
Incredibly, even the common-sense calls for mask-wearing from Pour and other officials spurred opposition from some quarters.
Pour, who has held the health director position for 18 years, announced last week that she intends to retire this summer. Her legacy will extend to how Douglas County carries out the selection process for her successor: She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and county officials say they will seek candidates who have a doctorate.
Pour deserves a salute for her steady, confident leadership. It has benefited our community greatly and sets a fine example for her successor.