County hires new public health director

Sheridan resident Judy Edwards was recently hired as the Public Health Director for Madison County, filling an important public service role in hopes of giving the department a more active and visible presence in the community.

Edwards is a registered nurse and holds a masters degree in Pubic Health from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and she has experience in public health in Montana and Utah. The Montana native will look to build upon various aspects of public health in Madison County, and she describes the level of importance of the public health department as “critical.”

“We want to be very proactive in letting people know that we’re here to provide support services for a range of things,” she said.

One of Edwards’ immediate goals in taking on the position is pursuing national accreditation for Madison County with the American Public Health Administration. Another important issue will be continuing to provide for the public health needs of the county’s population of senior citizens, she said.

“We want to make sure we have our services for seniors ready to go and covered and that we don’t have any gaps,” explained Edwards.

Currently there are limited, if any, services available for mental health care in Madison County, a problem that Edwards will look to address.

“We really don’t have mental health services available to the degree that we would like them, so I’ll probably explore the opportunities that we have to improve that,” stated Edwards.

Another important aspect of the job is community outreach, and Edwards hopes to expand community awareness of the services that the Public Health Department provides, from immunizations to emergency preparedness to assistance with existing health care services.

“I think we have to be part of the community, we have to be receptive to the needs of the community and also be able to lead them in the areas that we have the expertise and they have the need and desire to pursue,” she said. “We want to make sure that if the pubic needs that, that we are a resource for them and can step in and help with those situations.”

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