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Tri-Cities losing the doctor who brought it through the COVID pandemic

Tri-City Herald logo Tri-City Herald 8/14/2022 Annette Cary, Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

Aug. 13—Dr. Amy Person, health officer for Benton and Franklin counties, is resigning after leading the Tri-Cities area through the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has been picked by Washington state to serve as a regional medical officer for the state Department of Health. It is a new position to coordinate public health over regions within the state.

Dr. Person has served as the Benton and Franklin health officer for almost 11 years.

Benton Franklin Health District staff said in a statement that Dr. Person "exudes compassion" and has "vast knowledge and endless dedication to our community."

"In all my years of public health, I have met many incredible individuals who care about the people and families who live in our community, but there is only one Dr. Amy Person," said Jason Zaccaria, administrator for the Tri-Cities-based health district.

She has been an example of how public health can change the lives of individuals by easing their pain and implementing policies to improve lives for generations to come, he said.

Dr. Person said that leaving her position as county health officer is difficult, in part because of the commitment shown by staff at the local health district through the pandemic.

"I am grateful as well for the countless community members who were willing and able to look beyond themselves to care for and about their fellow residents through these difficult times," she said in a statement.

She said she was looking forward to joining an organization "that values the skills that I can bring to the job."

Some of the current health district board challenged her on the value of masks during peaks in the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned whether COVID-19 vaccines are effective, as Dr. Person cited scientific studies.

The board also directed the Benton Franklin Health District not to post to social media during LGBTQ+ Pride Month after seeing proposed posts about rates of bullying, stigma, and threats and injuries on school property among that community.

Person is board-certified in pediatrics and spent 18 years in clinical practice, primarily addressing the health care needs of under-served teens and children.

Recruiting a new health officer will be discussed at the next Benton Franklin Health District Board meeting at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at 7102 W. Okanogan Place, Kennewick. Information is posted at bfhd.wa.gov about how to attend the meeting virtually.

(c)2022 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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