Stanly health director leaving for new position

David Jenkins, who for four years was a public face in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving his post as Stanly County health and human services director.

Jenkins, who has accepted a position with Henderson County as its public health director, will be on the job for Stanly until April 12.

“I certainly wish him the best in his future endeavors and appreciate his contributions to our organization and community during his tenure with Stanly County,” County Manager Andy Lucas said.

Lucas said he will evaluate staffing and consult with the Health & Human Services Board and county commissioners “regarding our various health and human services executive level positions.”

An interim director or director will be named prior to Jenkins’ departure, Lucas said.

County Commissioner Peter Asciutto, who served on the health board during the height of Covid, wished Jenkins well on his next venture.

“He did a great job navigating the Covid pandemic that tore through our country,” Asciutto said.

Jenkins has been a fixture during the pandemic, giving presentations monthly at county commissioner meetings on the latest trends. He encouraged people to wear masks and get vaccinated in a county that had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state at the time.

“It’s been challenging for all of us,” he said in a March 2022 interview with The SNAP. “I know everybody’s tired of hearing about Covid, but I can assure you nobody’s more tired of talking about it or dealing with it than the folks that are on the front lines like our staff here and the people at the hospital.”

Jenkins began his career as an environmental health specialist with New Hanover County. He spent time as health director in Scotland County and Carteret County before arriving in Stanly in 2018.

Besides Covid, Jenkins led the county’s health department as the county was No. 1 in the state for opioid overdoses.

The department received several key grants, including $1 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration to reduce barriers to recovery for men and women with substance use disorders and $150,000 for up to three years to provide care to people who may be uninsured or underinsured.

During 2023, the Association of NC Boards of Health presented Stanly with the Outstanding Board of Health Award. It was also awarded reaccreditation status by the North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation.

One of his last efforts as director was the nomination process which led to N.C. Rep. Wayne Sasser being named the 2024 Public Health Legislator of the Year Award presented by the N.C. Association of Local Health Directors.

When speaking of his new role with Henderson, Jenkins said he has “always enjoyed that part of the state and county.”

“It’s just been one of my goals [to work for a bigger county] and that opportunity came about,” Jenkins said.

The population of Henderson County is more than 116,000, just under double that of Stanly. His staff will consist of more than 150 individuals and the department is not affiliated with Social Services like it is in Stanly.

Looking ahead for Stanly, Jenkins said he hopes the new Health and Human Services board “will be as supportive as our previous board in our future endeavors as far as public health.

“Your Health and Human Services Board is designed to be supportive, an advocate with Public Health and Social Services.”