Health and Family Services Cabinet
Regina Washington Named Director of New Public Health Division
Work Will Focus on Disease Prevention, Service Improvement
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell announced today that Regina Washington, Dr.PH., has been named the director of the newly established division of prevention and quality improvement in the Department for Public Health (DPH).
Sharma Klee will serve as acting assistant director of the division, which will focus on chronic diseases, disease management, the behavioral risk factor surveillance survey, quality improvement, occupational health, health care access and workforce development.
“This new division will be a tremendous asset to the Department for Public Health by bringing a heightened focus to these extremely valuable programs,” said Birdwhistell. “We’re thrilled to have Dr. Washington, who has a breadth of experience in health education and research, and Sharma Klee on board to run this new division.”
Washington comes to public health after many years of working in postsecondary education and research. Specifically, she has taught health-related courses at the college level; conducted research on rural health care issues in eastern Kentucky; and worked on cancer research at both the University of Kentucky and at the National Cancer Institute within the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.)
“Dr. Washington's professional experiences, along with her knowledge, teaching and research experiences and leadership skills, will significantly strengthen the department and help us advance public health efforts in Kentucky even further,” said William Hacker, M.D., acting undersecretary for health and public health commissioner.
Washington, a native of West Virginia, obtained her bachelor’s degree in biology from Berea College, a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in health sciences from Eastern Kentucky University and a doctorate from the UK College of Public Health.
“’An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’ my mentor, Dr. Mark Dignan, tells me,” said Washington. “Taking action to understand the health risks and detect the health conditions early will work toward moving the ‘health needle’ of Kentuckians toward improved health. Public health is the thread that ties the community together.”
Klee, a nurse and veteran public health staff member, has worked in the division of adult and child health improvement for several years.
“Kentuckians are facing increased diversity and continuing changes in the health care infrastructure,” said Klee. “Public health must play an ever increasing role in helping meet the needs of our citizens. The Division of Prevention and Quality Improvement will be working to improve health care access and the quality of that care for all Kentuckians.”