by Kate Evans
Following the January 25 resignation of Dr. Terrence Reidy as the Chief Health Officer for the Berkeley-Morgan Health Department, Dr. Kevin McLaughlin will step up into that role.
McLaughlin has been the Deputy Health Officer for the counties for several years, and has a long relationship of providing medical services to the Morgan County Health Department. McLaughlin is an Emergency Room physician at War Memorial Hospital.
Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department Director Bill Kearns announced Dr. Reidy’s resignation on January 25. Reidy will remain as Chief Health Officer for Jefferson County. Dr. Reidy has served as Chief Health Officer since July of 2019.
Dr. Reidy was needing to spend more time in Jefferson County, said Kearns.
“The Board wishes Dr. Reidy all the best and appreciates his work towards protection of public health in Berkeley and Morgan Counties,” Kearns said in an official letter.
Dr. Reidy said that now he’ll be working with one Board of Health and not two. He has been with Berkeley County Health Department for nearly four years, and served during their merger with the Morgan County Health Department.
Reidy said that Dr. Kevin McLaughlin has been very active in the COVID-19 response in the agency and is up to speed in every aspect.
Dr. McLaughlin has done most of his work in Morgan County. He knows the community partners there and will be getting to know the Berkeley County partners, too.
Dr. Reidy said that COVID-19 will be an issue for awhile and health departments will continue to be dealing with it as well as the flu.
Kearns said that many health departments across the state have reduced the services they’re providing to the public due to their increased duties during the pandemic.
Both Morgan and Berkeley County Health Departments are still trying to do their regular duties on top of getting people vaccinated, setting up vaccination clinics, public disease surveillance and contact tracing.
Right now they’re trying to get as many people as they can vaccinated against COVID-19, Kearns said. Health officials hope to be setting up weekly clinics in each county once more vaccines are delivered to the state.
Reidy hoped by fall that it will be a much different picture with the pandemic, especially with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Sticking with the same measures – – wearing face masks, keeping your distance from others and avoiding crowds — to keep the coronavirus from spreading is essential.
Reidy stressed that if more people would wear face masks, that action would make a great difference.
Indoor dining has been a problem whether in homes for small gatherings or in restaurants since you have to take your mask off to eat, he said. There has been a fair amount of coronavirus spread with people sitting around eating.
Reidy said if we can just get through the next few months, vaccinations will gradually decrease the chance of getting ill, hospitalized or dying from COVID-19. The problem is they’re not getting enough vaccines.
Reidy said the most vulnerable people and those at high risk of serious illness need to be vaccinated.
Health Department Director Bill Kearns said he’s looking forward to working with Dr. McLaughlin “as we continue to get through this pandemic and after.”
Dr. Kevin McLaughlin has been with the Morgan County Health Department office since at least the early 2000s when he started as a medical provider for their women’s health specialty clinics.
Dr. McLaughlin has been very dedicated to public health and Kearns is grateful that he is willing to take on extra duties with Dr. Reidy’s resignation.
“He’s the right fit to serve as Chief Health Officer,” Kearns said of McLaughlin.
Dr. McLaughlin came to the Morgan County Health Department in 1998 first as a general surgeon for their breast and cervical exam program. He took on doing the initial exams as well when that provider left. McLaughlin also became a clinician for the Health Department’s family planning clinic.
McLaughlin served as Morgan County Health Officer before Dr. Reidy came on board before the merger. When Reidy became Chief Health Officer for Berkeley-Morgan Counties, McLaughlin was Deputy Health Officer, mainly serving in Morgan County.
McLaughlin started working at War Memorial Hospital’s emergency room in 2006 and has been there ever since.
McLaughlin said their focus is “vaccinating everyone that wants to be vaccinated as fast as we can get the vaccine in their arm.”
The Governor has begun a tiered system for COVID-19 vaccinations which is now at age 65 and above.
“The Health Department team is doing a tremendous job throughout this whole pandemic and I hope to play a part in continuing its outreach to the citizens of both Berkeley and Morgan Counties,” McLaughlin said.