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Ready to make a difference

New director for the Crook County Health Department is anxious to dig in to her new job

by: KATE WENNERSTROM/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, the new Crook County Health Department director, is looking forward to getting to know her staff and the projects and programs that are in place.

The new Crook County Health Department Director, Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, took the reins Monday, March 17.
   She replaces Wendy Perrin, who has taken a position as a Crook County School District nurse.
   "I think the thing I enjoy most about a career in public health in you really can see a difference," she said.
   As the new health department director, she has several goals in mind for the Crook County Health Department. For example, pointing to work she had done in Douglas County, she said she wants to conduct a community health assessment, determining the county's health needs.
   "I think also I really want to dig into the programs that are here right now and visit with all the staff," the new director continued.
   She also hopes to expand work in chronic disease issues.
   Additionally, she also wants to closely examine health statistics in the county, including for infant mortality, communicable disease and teen pregnancy.
   "Where are we now and where do we need to move to?" she asked.
   In Deschutes County and in other counties, she conducted community health assessments, talking with residents and gathering information.
   "You know, what are the trends and what can we do to keep the population as a whole healthy?" she said.
   Crook County Judge Scott Cooper also commented on her background, saying she has 40 hours of master's work in the field of education from the University of Oregon. She also worked in the Deschutes County Public Health Department from 1998 to 2007.
   "I actually supervised a lot of the programs, but my focus in the last five years was in communicable disease and public health preparedness," she said.
   "She has extensive background in managing communicable disease and preparedness," Cooper said. "Some of the health programs with which she has been involved include immunization, tuberculosis, HIV infection, sexually transmitted disease, STARS (Students Aren't Ready For Sex), family planning, breast and cervical cancer prevention, diabetes prevention, prenatal care, wellness promotion and school-based healthcare."
   "She is well qualified and will be a tremendous asset to the county, and brings substantial experience in her field to addressing public health needs in Crook County. Plus she has a great personality and will be a fun addition to the county staff," he said.
   "I think it was a progression," she said of her decision to apply for the Crook County position. "I've been a manager in health for a long time and this was the next step. And I love the work. That's what it really came down to. I love the work."
   "I started a career in nursing and then I was always interested in public health, making a difference," DeLaVergne-Brown said of her interest in the health field.
   She earned her nursing degree in 1978 from Umpqua Community College and later received her bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon in 1981. DeLaVergne-Brown started her work on her master's degree, saying that one of her eventual goals is to earn her master's.
   She was a school nurse and taught health occupations at Thurston High School. She later worked in Lane County from 1992 to 1993, for the Lane County Health Department.
   "And then I took the management position in '93 for Douglas County," she added.
   "You know, it's a field that I know really well. And I really want to support the staff in what they're doing and the programs they work in," she said. "The big thing is you want to improve the community's health."