Routt County hires interim public health director
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County has hired an interim public health director to help lead the local fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
With more than 20 years of experience in the field, Roberta Smith enters a role that has become particularly critical amid the global pandemic, which has killed more than 145,000 people in the U.S. alone.
“It’s such an important time for public health,” Smith said.
The change comes after Kari Ladrow, the former public health director, announced her resignation earlier in the month. Her last day was Friday. Ladrow was splitting her time between Routt and Moffat counties and now serves solely as the public health director for Moffat County.
Smith has spent most of her career working with infectious disease management. From 1999 to 2007, she coordinated the influenza immunization program for the Colorado Department of Health & Environment. She also served as the occupational health manager for the department.
Most recently, she worked with a company called Cority Axion Health, where she conducted webinars on proper cleaning and disinfecting practices against COVID-19 and on contact tracing strategies. She left that job to take the county position.
In her role as Routt County’s public health director, which begins Monday, Smith plans to build partnerships among the various departments, organizations and stakeholders affected by or responding to the pandemic. She also wants to continue building public health resources and find ways to make operations more efficient.
“Unfortunately, COVID-19 is going to be with us for a while,” Smith said.
The interim public health director is no new face around Routt County. She has been splitting her time between here and Denver since 2011. She and her husband moved to Steamboat Springs permanently in May.
“It was always part of the plan to move to Steamboat,” Smith said, though she never expected the time to come amid a pandemic. “It was definitely an interesting time to do so.”
When the director position opened up, Smith knew she had the capability to make a positive difference for the county.
“It was almost like a calling,” Smith said. “When this opportunity presented itself, I realized I have the skillset to help the community.”
Smith has expressed an interest in the permanent director position. The county continues to take applications for the job. According to the job description on the county’s website, the ideal candidate is one with “a knowledgeable, strategic and visionary public health executive who is responsible for the leadership, management, and administration of County public health programming.”
The deadline for applying is Aug. 3 at 3 p.m.
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More COVID-19 booster shots are getting approved, health officials are saying people can mix or match the brand of these shots, and vaccines for children between 5 and 11 are closer than ever.