Wagner returns as health district director

Published 6:34 pm Friday, May 28, 2021

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After more than five months away, Dr. Todd Wagner has returned to the Western Tidewater Health District to be its director again, but this time, he won’t have the interim title in front of it.

Wagner had served as the district’s interim director from Feb. 10, 2020 until last November, leading the district’s efforts in COVID-19 testing and awareness before he left to become vice president of medical affairs at Bon Secours Maryview Hospital in Portsmouth.

While he was away, Dr. Lauren James, already the director of the Portsmouth Health District, became interim director in Western Tidewater. During his time away, Will Drewery left as emergency manager of the district to become emergency manager in Isle of Wight County and Connor Smith, the Medical Reserve Corps coordinator, became interim emergency manager.

Wagner returned to the district May 10.

“I’m a public health professional and there’s good work to be done,” Wagner said. “I was obviously very familiar with the Western Tidewater district and the localities, so I knew it was certainly good to have those previous relationships and being able to know who exactly who I was coming back to help out was quite a bit easier.

“There was still good work to be done within the district, and I want to be a part of that and in an environment and location I was familiar with.”

He said he had several goals in returning as director — to provide information and encouragement about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, transition public health departments back to their normal operations and then gearing up for hurricane season.

“As we transition our public health departments back to normal, or back to more regular duties, our normal community mission,” Wagner said, “we need to be able to continue to … educate, and continue our emphasis (on) the fact that we’re continuing to get back to functions as they were pre-COVID.”

Wagner’s focusing currently on getting underserved areas of the health district vaccinated as pandemic measures are being lifted.

“As our emphasis shifts of COVID,” Wagner said, “I want to make sure we’re getting back to our core missions.”