Hackert begins tenure as new county medical health officer

GENESEE COUNTY — Genesee County’s new medical health director is planning to put her extensive medical background to use in the fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Pamela Hackert, who was appointed as the Genesee County Health Department’s Medical Health Officer, officially started in her new role on Jan. 4. She is the first woman to lead the county health department and the first director to bear the title of Medical Health Officer—a combination of the department’s medical and health director positions.

“I was very excited when this position opened up because I knew it would work really well with my medical and law background,” Hackert said. “With my title, I can be a health advisor to the county and use all of my medical training to facilitate a quick response to the constantly changing pandemic situation.”

Hackert was tapped by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners in October to replace retired county health officer John McKellar. At the time, she was serving as the interim medical director for Jackson County and practicing Occupational Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Hackert said that she is impressed by the Genesee County Health Department’s strong response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its dedication to get vaccines to the most vulnerable populations in the county.

“We have a very passionate workforce here at the health department, and the Board of Commissioners has been wonderful to work with,” she said. “They are really responsive to suggestions and their goal is to get the community vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible.”

As the former medical health director for the Oakland County Health Department from 2010 to 2018, Hackert oversaw efforts to curb measles and mumps outbreaks. She also led the county’s monitoring of the Ebola epidemic and other communicable diseases during the mid-2010s.

After brief stints as medical director for Wayne and Washtenaw counties, Hackert completed a fellowship in Occupational Environmental Medicine in Colorado. She also has a Master’s in Public Health and a law degree.

Moving forward, Hackert said that she wants to improve the Genesee County Health Department’s communication capabilities to keep residents up to date with the latest developments on the pandemic and other health concerns.

“What we need to do is get information out to the public in a clear and available way,” she said. “We are working to get messaging out faster on our website, especially as facts change day to day and we get new medical research from the CDC, the state and the federal government.”

In addition to preparing the county for widespread COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Hackert said that she plans to use her background in Occupational Environmental Medicine to tackle major public health issues, such as ongoing effects from the Flint water crisis. She also wants to introduce more people to the Genesee County Health Department’s resources by promoting interactive programs and events in the future.