266: ASTHO’s New President-Elect

Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and new ASTHO President-Elect, discusses the role and the pandemic’s impact on public health; Chris Taylor, ASTHO’s Director of Infectious Disease Outbreak Response and...

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Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and new ASTHO President-Elect, discusses the role and the pandemic’s impact on public health; Chris Taylor, ASTHO’s Director of Infectious Disease Outbreak Response and Recovery, tells how public health leaders can help their employees recover from pandemic fatigue; and Michael Fraser, ASTHO’s CEO, is in the news talking about COVID-19’s health debt.

ASTHO Blog Article: Building a Culture of Care: Leadership in Public Health Agencies

The Nation’s Health Article: As public health does double duty, everyday work falls behind

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Tuesday, September 20th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



My purpose is to support the strategic plan of ASTHO and to support all of the state health officials as fully as we can as an organization.


Kentucky public health commissioner Dr. Steven Stack on his new title—ASTHO president-elect, a job he assumed last week during member meetings in Atlanta.


I've been a state health commissioner for a little over two and a half years, and it has been one of the truly distinguishing joys of my professional journey to be part of this community and to be associated with so many dedicated, intelligent, and committed folks who do so much every day with their teams and individually themselves to try to support good health across our nation.


Stack is familiar with association leadership duties, serving as president of the American Medical Association from 2014 until 2017.

In his new role at ASTHO, he's thinking about the pandemic and its impact on public health.


We have had a very difficult road in public health, the last two and a half or three years. Absolutely, it has taken a toll on our workforce. It has taken a toll on all of society. I think it has shown that our under-investment in public health has been a disservice to us all for our health and wellbeing as a nation.


Even so, Stack says the COVID-19 crisis also represents an opportunity.


I think that while there are great difficulties and challenges, and a lot of public health workers and professionals who have certainly become fatigued and have some recovery that needs to occur after the pandemic, I also think it has provided us with some really profound opportunities to hopefully build back better and help support both the public health workforce and the people we serve by making better investments in the community and providing better resources and tools.


Dr. Stack says the president-elect position presents a unique platform, allowing him to serve his colleagues across the states and territories.


I look forward to the opportunity to have the chance to be one of the principal spokespersons for ASTHO, to try to channel effectively the thoughts and the concerns of my fellow state health officials, and to try to find wherever we can agreement and concurrence, where we can work together to share common goals rather than focus on those occasional areas where we see things differently.



Public health leaders looking to help their employees recover from pandemic fatigue can start by modeling good self-care practices.

This is ASTHO's Chris Taylor.


I think it's important for health officials and leaders in health departments to recognize the important role that they play in leading their organizations, providing a space for their teams to focus on self-care.


Taylor has written a blog listing steps leaders can take to build a culture of care within their agencies.


In so many ways, members of a team, employees of an organization look to supervisors, look to executive directors, look to the health officials, to set the tone about what is important, is prioritizing self-care important.

And so, by taking the time to practice self-care, to model self-care, and talk about it in an open way with their staff, it's reinforcing that this is something that is an important part of the work that we do


In the blog article, Taylor offers a few simple ideas you might consider.


It could be things like exercise while they're on their office grounds, or before they go to the office, or when they get home from the office. We heard people—health officials—talking about how they or people in their lives were impacted emotionally or psychologically by what was occurring around them with COVID. And that really normalized the trauma that people were experiencing both in their personal lives, but also in their work lives, not being able to get away from from COVID or whatever the public health issue they were working on.


You can read Taylor's article using the link in the show notes.


Finally, today ASTHO's CEO is in the news talking about COVID-19's health debt.

O'Keyla Cooper has more.


ASTHO CEO Michael Fraser spoke with the Nation's Health about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the routine functions of healthcare and public health. Outside of the pandemic, many critical tasks were set aside and public health is racing to make up for lost time. Learn more about COVID-19's health debt in today's show notes.



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That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Chris Taylor

Director, Infectious Disease Outbreak Response and Recovery, ASTHO

Steven Stack MD

Kentucky Commissioner for Public Health