Dr. Bethany Wait is now the Health Officer for Elkhart County as of Jan. 1, 2021.
Wait’s transition has gone smoothly so far especially for the time period in which she began the role.
“So I think my first year is gonna be pretty much [COVID-19] driven,” said Wait. “So we need to get the vaccine rolled out to at least 70% of our community before we can start taking our masks and hoping for some type of normality. So, right now, our numbers look better, and so the goal will be to keep our numbers where we’re at, we’re not going to be able to get rid of the virus. That’s just not possible.”
Each person shapes the position, for Wait it’s no different.
“I’m a primary care doctor, we live by prevention, and so that’s what I will bring to this particular job,” said Wait. [C]urrently, the health department has a couple of clinics where we help to keep young kids vaccinated. So we’ll continue to do that. But we also are going to add some different preventative education along with that immunization clinics. So when kids come in to get their childhood vaccines, we’ll try and educate them based on their age group. [T]hen we also have a sexually transmitted infection clinic, and so that is a big portion of a health department is to keep the sexual health of our population and so a lot of education in that as well.”
While Wait is new to the job, she realizes that it’s never too early to begin working on your legacy.
“That’s a tough question to answer, especially when it’s just day 29,” said Wait. “But I think really making healthcare more equitable and Elkhart county is probably going to be one of my things that I hope people look back and see. I think that I also would like to revitalize the health department and make it more of an outreach more of a community driven place. Right now, not all that many people know what the health department does for them doesn’t know what it could do for them, and I certainly would like to change that and make it more visible in general to our community.”