(Clarinda) — The search is over in Page County for a new public health administrator.
During the Page County Board of Health meeting Monday, Board President Chuck Nordyke announced that Richard Mullen has been selected for the position following an extensive interview process. Mullen succeeds Jess Erdman in the role, who resigned back in April. Mullen has served with ZION Integrated Behavioral Health Services for the past 18 years–the previous 12 as Associate Director. Mullen tells KMA News he applied for the opening as he felt it was the next step in his service to health in Page County.
“It’s just something that I looked at as a growth opportunity for myself and also it’s very important that Iowan’s health becomes a priority,” said Mullen. “It has been a priority in the past, but just continuing with that. So, this is something that with a lot of my experience and history I could bring some added value to the table.”
Mullen says he was ecstatic to hear the board had selected him for the job and looks forward to building upon the solid foundation, specifically regarding COVID-19 provided by Erdman.
“I was really kind of ecstatic that through my interview process that I was able to obtain the position and continue on a lot of what Jess did prior,” said Mullen. “As I’ve been kind of talking and looking through some of the things that she has done, she’s done amazing ground work with COVID-19 and other initiatives within the public health department, so just continuing on that and continuing to expand the services .”
During his time with ZION, which provides substance abuse and mental health services, Mullen says he was able to establish a basic understanding of public health.
One of his priorities is to continue expanding where services are provided within the county.
“I will really adopt a ‘no wrong door’ attitude towards people and no matter where they’re trying to access services, that those services will become available,” said Mullen. “Making sure they can link to those services, and conduct really strong follow ups, and make sure people are following through with appointments, and things like that.”
Mullen says he also brings extensive grant writing and data analysis background.
While he believes the previous administration was already setting the groundwork, Mullen says he hopes to continue to address disparities within the county, including lower-income individuals and families and child health.
“Addressing obesity, diabetes, and things like that,” said Mullen. “Maternal care–you know women health, women and children. You really know ensuring that those disparities that really impact people–let it be services that aren’t readily available and creating those services and working with other entities that have the opportunity to create those services.”
Mullen is expected to begin working with the county on May 31.