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San Diego County Public Health Director Dr. Wilma Wooten wins statewide award

Citing her 23 years of service as San Diego County’s public health director, the California Department of Public Health honored Dr. Wilma Wooten with its highest honor last week during an awards ceremony in Sacramento.

In a statement, Susan Fanelli, CDPH’s chief deputy director, said Wooten deserved the Beverlee A. Myers Award for Excellence in Public Health because she had “broken barriers and served as a role model for young people, especially to black American girls. who wish to pursue a career in medicine and science.

“She demonstrates dedication to improving the health and safety of all communities by working with binational, national and local partners,” Fanelli said, also citing “innovation in her public health practice and its approach to promoting essential public health services and its commitment to addressing public health problems. the needs of special populations and reduce disparities in health care and outcomes.

Established in 1993, the award commemorates the work of Myers, who led CDPH from 1978 to 1983 during his 25-year career in public health.

Wooten joined the county in 2001 as deputy health officer. At the time, she was also doing volunteer medical trips to Jamaica, Kenya and Ghana to treat and educate patients vulnerable to communicable diseases, such as AIDS.

She was named public health officer in 2007. Under her leadership, the region has performed remarkably well during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The adversity of COVID has not only shaped his character. It revealed his character,” Fanelli said during the award ceremony.

Born in rural Alabama, Wooten was the first in her family to pursue higher education, earning a degree in biology from Spelman College and a master’s degree in public health and an M.D. from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.

According to a release from the county, Wooten’s remarks during the awards ceremony included mention of essential truths that she has considered throughout her career.

“Be sure to share what you think is a ‘great idea’ with those you think you support as well as those who are reluctant, opposed or affected by your important policy, practice or program,” she said . “And don’t worry about things you can’t change.”

California Daily Newspapers

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