By Marla Hurston Fuller
Cincinnati Health Department
Camille Jones, MD, MPH, retired from the Cincinnati Health Department on September 30, after serving 12 years as assistant health commissioner and division director for the Community Health and Environmental Health Services Division (CHES).
During her tenure, she and her award-winning staff and partners made Cincinnati a much healthier city.
Dr. Jones’s philosophy was to 1) trust your highly trained and professional staff members, and let them run with their ideas, 2) embrace and learn from community partnerships and 3) provide opportunities for training and advancement to staff, students and fellows as often as possible. She also encouraged people to not be afraid to put down an idea that was not perfected, just tell people “this is my first draft” and allow it to be molded over time.
Selected accomplishments by CHES programs while under her leadership include:
- a) Environmental health programs maintaining our public health enforcement functions, including preserve, protect, prevent and enforce, despite a draconian loss of staff (40% over the 12-year period);
- b) developing the first neighborhood level analyses of mortality rates and life expectancy;
- c) being the first local health department in the nation to address childhood blood lead poisoning at the level of 5-9 ug/dl with public health interventions;
- d) bringing in more than $11 million dollars in HUD lead–grant funds for making homes in Cincinnati lead safe;
- e) developing an award winning Creating Healthy Communities Coalition in collaboration with numerous fabulous community partners to address healthy eating, active living and tobacco cessation;
- f) being part of the T-21Coalition that helped Cincinnati pass a tobacco 21 smoking ordinance in conjunction with passage of a board of health resolution establishing the Tobacco Retailer License program to support compliance checks for sale of tobacco products;
- g) developing a new job classification series for the City of Cincinnati, to allow hiring of epidemiologists at three levels of experience. Cincinnati now has two positions for supervising epidemiologist, which strengthens our in-house analytic ability;
- h) producing seven influential Health Impact Assessment (HIA) reports with recommendations for mitigation of potential health impactions associated with a variety of pending projects and policies, including demolition of a lead– painted bridge, the impact of layoff and bumping on city employees and the Alaska Commons project;
- i) implementing an extensive kiosk system for ordering and paying for certified copies of birth and death certifications, and also developed satellite centers to increase access to this service;
- j) providing real-life public health experiences, training and research opportunities for more than 60 public health interns, master of health administration students, University of Cincinnati undergraduate and graduate students in multiple schools. Several of the department’s interns have gone on to pursue PhD’s in public health; and
- k)theCHES program staff extensively and intimately involved in the long process of developing the application for local Health Department Accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board;
Jones was a long time member of the Health Department Institutional Review Board, and chair for the last four years, to help assure human subjects protections for research involving clinic patients and staff members. She was a member of many community advisory boards including those for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Hoxworth Blood Center and the University of Cincinnati Environmental Health.
Jones said her theory of leadership is that people are inherently creative and motivated. “When you have a highly trained, professional and dedicated staff, and you allow them to express ideas and run with them, they will develop high quality and highly impactful, innovative programs,’’ she said. “The role of leadership is simply to help facilitate and actualize these ideas. This trust in the staff of the Cincinnati Health Department has been richly rewarded with outstanding initiatives, dedication, involvement, ownership and pride.”
Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore said, “Dr. Camille Jones has made a profound and lasting impact on the Cincinnati Health Department, the city of Cincinnati and the community at large. She will be greatly missed.’’