BY D’ARCY EGAN
Nancy Osborne hadn’t planned on hanging around the Ottawa County Board of Health for a half century, and she didn’t figure on finally retiring while the county and state were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I started here in 1970, and 50 years is a really long time,” said Osborne. “It’s very rare to stay in a profession, and with the same organization, for an entire career. I’ve had such great support over the years, and the benefit of great teams of public health leadership.”
Osborne began arranging her retirement 12 months ago, and finalized the transition earlier this year. That was well before the COVID-19 pandemic put health care in such a topsy turvy situation.
“This transition has been well planned, and is certainly not a shakeup,” she said. “Professionally, I would like to see things through with the pandemic, but it is time to make the transition.
“Jerry Bingham is an excellent choice for commissioner, and he has the energy to go on for years, through different phases and opportunities to protect the health of our citizens as we move forward and learn to live with COVID-19, and any vaccine they might develop.
“I believe the strategies for managing the disease will soon become very, very different.”
What Osborne believes and far too many don’t suspect is that there is no end in sight for the pandemic. While many think officials are “flattening the curve,” or a vaccine is just around the corner, they have not been paying attention to the national and international experts.
“We’re in this for the long run,” said Osborne. “As healthcare officials, our public health goal right now is education, education and education.”
Osborne said the Big Four is very important, namely the value of disinfecting, social distancing, wearing face covers and avoiding crowds.
“I don’t want to be over the top about it, but we must ask people to wear a mask in public, unless perhaps you’re in a great big parking lot and walking to your car, and no one else is around,” said Osborne. “We need to be ready to put on a mask when encountering people.”
Did Ohio and the U.S. reopen businesses, retail stores and bars and restaurants too early?
“I can’t comment on that,” said Osborn. “We’ve been so consumed, so busy with our own public health responses. We’ve been working with the Ohio Department of Health to give us guidance and to apply the best possible ways to handle the virus in our community, wherethe majority of deaths have been related to long-term care facilities.”