The health department in Washington, D.C., has an interest in implementing many of the approaches to public health found in Louisville, said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Louisville’s public health director.
On Monday, Mayor Greg Fischer announced that Washington Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser had appointed Nesbitt to lead the health department in the nation’s capitol.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in three and a half years,” Nesbitt told reporters on Tuesday.
“This health department is well positioned and well posed to continue to do great work here under the leadership of my successor, who is still to be determined.”
She said Fischer’s strategic vision first attracted her to Louisville and that it has been an honor working with him.
“Having a mayor who has as one of their key priorities to improve the health of a community is one of the key ingredients you need for success in improving the health of a population,” she said.
Nesbitt said Louisville and D.C. are similar: increasing numbers of people have access to health care, yet they don’t know how to navigate the health care system.
“You now have the challenge of making sure people know how to use that insurance, making sure that people don’t smoke, making sure that people get the recommended amount of physical activity and making sure that people eat the right healthy foods,” Nesbitt said.
“And you have to have the environments that fosters that type of activity making sure that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice by default.”
She said her successor should embrace people in the community who are willing to help.
“The private sector and the community partners are ready, willing and able to take on ownership of being able to help solve the community health problems in this community,” Nesbitt said.
Chris Poynter, spokesman for the mayor’s office, said the search for a successor begins immediately.
Nesbitt said although it is tough to leave Louisville, she is looking forward to growing professionally and personally in her new position, and she hopes to stay connected to people she’s met in Kentucky.