The Prince George’s County Council confirmed Pamela Brown Creekmur as the new head of the of the Department of Health, despite questions about a registered nurse performing a job that has traditionally gone to a physician in the county.

Creekmur, who said she has lived in the county for 17 years, has been serving as acting health officer since last summer. Creekmur said she spent 15 years with Kaiser Permanente in a variety of roles, the last as director of surgical services for the District of Columbia/suburban Maryland region. She’s been a registered nurse for 30 years.

State law allows the health chief to be a registered nurse as long as the deputy health officer position is held by a physician. Ernest Carter, a physician who has worked at Howard University Hospital, and Westat, a research facility, will serve as the county’s deputy health officer, officials said.

Carter cited HIV/AIDS, obesity and infant mortality as major concerns in Prince George’s.
In explaining Creekmur’s appointment, county officials pointed to Fran Phillips, a registered nurse who serves as the state’s deputy secretary for Public Health Services. She was health officer in Anne Arundel County for 15 years, officials said.

Creekmur said her administrative skills will be an asset. “I’m an administrator and nurse by training, but what I’m known for is outcomes,” she said. “I think what they were looking for at the health department was someone with strong administrative skills to help turn some things around.”

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who tapped Creekmur for the job, said implementation of the Affordable Care Act will require an experienced health administrator at the helm.

“I think you’ve seen the great work that she’s done in the little over 10 months that she’s been acting director,” he said. “She’s been working with our Deputy CAO Betty Hager Francis to make sure that healthcare is on the front page of the agenda for Prince George’s County. I think she’s going to do a terrific job.”

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO