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Health officer wants better medicine access

September 18, 2000

Health officer wants better medicine access



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

william ChristoffelWashington County's new health officer, William Christoffel, says he hopes to use his experience and expertise to help Washington County.

He is still determining his goals and plans but has one priority: To improve older residents' access to pharmaceuticals. He plans to work to make sure seniors can easily obtain needed medication, he said.

Christoffel, of Mount Airy, Md., has about 30 years of experience as an administrator with federal public health programs, mostly in the Rockville, Md,. area and Hawaii.

Christoffel, who officially takes over Oct. 1, has been working for the county since Sept. 6.

During the transition he has been working with outgoing Health Officer Robert Parker.

That has helped him get to know the Health Department, the community and its needs, he said.

The Washington County Commissioners nominated Christoffel for the job at their Aug. 29 meeting.

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The County Commissioners had voted July 18 to nominate a Pennsylvania doctor for the position. That nominee, Dr. Victor S.B. Jorden, an anesthesiologist from Media, Pa., turned down the position for personal reasons.

Christoffel said he has no plans to make major changes to the department's structure, because it had been his experience that doing so does little good, hurts morale and wastes time.

He is the county's first health officer who is not a medical doctor.

Other Maryland counties have hired administrators as health officers and have doctors in other high-level positions.

The role of county health officers has changed in the last century as the responsibilities have shifted from clinical and medical work to management, he said. He said he thinks there is nothing wrong with this change and promised a physician will be on staff.

Christoffel said he and his wife will soon begin exploring a possible move to Washington County.

Christoffel held federal jobs in the Rockville and Bethesda, Md., areas from 1969 to about 1991.

His accomplishments include helping President Richard Nixon deliver a health message to the country and assisting in the establishment of the National Health Service Corps, he said.

He worked in Hawaii for the federal government from 1991 to about 1999, when he moved back to Maryland, he said.

While on a vacation with his wife in Hawaii she told him he should try to get a job there so they could live there full time. He did, but missed seeing the seasons change, he said.

Since returning to Maryland has been doing consulting work, including helping HIV and homeless clinics get government funding, he said.

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