Virginia Beach council votes to ask the state for its own health director instead of sharing with Norfolk

Virginia Beach council votes to ask the state for its own health director instead of sharing with Norfolk
Alissa Skelton, The Virginian-Pilot
·1 min read

Government officials in Virginia Beach are forging ahead with a request to return the city to a single public health district.

On Tuesday evening, the council unanimously voted to ask the state to allow Virginia Beach to get its own health director.

City Manager Patrick Duhaney will begin negotiating with the state’s Health Department, which oversees all health districts, and plans to report back to the council with any required necessary budget adjustments.

Virginia Beach has shared a health director with Norfolk for the past three years.

But during a March City Council retreat, several council members expressed concerns that Virginia Beach is far too large to share a leader with its neighbor, especially during the pandemic. The council said the health director didn’t have enough time to provide updates about the pandemic to Virginia Beach and Norfolk during council meetings.

In April, Norfolk and Virginia Beach’s top public health leader, Demetria Lindsay, retired. For now, Dr. Parham Jaberi, Virginia Department of Health’s chief deputy commissioner for public health preparedness, is the acting director until the state can name a replacement.

Historically, Virginia has struggled to find enough qualified candidates for the position. The state requires health directors to be licensed medical doctors who have executive management experience.

Virginia Beach had its own health director until 2018, when the state’s health department has said it was not able to recruit qualified candidates to replace the outgoing director. So it decided to combine the health districts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

Alissa Skelton, 757-995-9043, alissa.skelton@pilotonline.com