Public health director retiring

Published 10:21 am Saturday, September 30, 2017

Clark County Public Health Director Scott Lockard is wondering where the time went.

A dozen years ago, he was hired to lead the Clark County Health Department. It was his dream job, he said. Friday, though, was his final day in the office as he prepared to retire from a career working in public health.

“It passed by really quick,” he said.

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Lockard, a native and resident of Wolfe County, started as a social worker with the Kentucky River Health Department, which served seven counties in eastern Kentucky. During his career, Lockard said health departments have shifted from being primarily service providers to agencies that work to improve health for the entire community.

Health departments used to provide a lot of medical care like well child visits and immunizations, especially in areas where there were few doctors or other providers.

“We had health departments across the state staffed with associate-degree nurses,” he said. “They were filling gaps in medical services.”

Today, there are more providers. For example, the Clark County Health Department administered 6,500 flu shots in 2005. In 2016, it only gave about 600, he said.

“If someone else is meeting that need, we’ll focus our resources elsewhere,” he said. “In public health, we try to work upstream and do things that prevent things from becoming a problem.”

Part of that is the needle exchange program which was implemented in 2016. The program allows intravenous drug users to trade in used needles for retractable, one-use needles, while being connected with other health services in the community. It is also designed to prevent dirty needles being disposed carelessly in the community as well as stemming the spread of other diseases.

“The needle exchange program and the change in attitude about substance abuse has been one of the most unexpected things we have been involved with,” he said. “Just the importance in the roles of public health has changed.”

Lockard was in the first group trained to implement the HANDS program, which works with new parents in their homes.

“We have to have an investment early in our children,” he said. “We can’t afford not to invest in prevention.”

Lockard said the CCHD is in a good place both in terms of finances and services, which is allowing him to step away and focus on his family.

“I’ve seen the boom times in public health,” he said. “I’ve seen the down times. Right now we’re on good footing.”

In the immediate future, Lockard said he plans to indulge in “Kubota therapy” on his 100-acre farm in Wolfe County while tending to his parents and his family.

Lockard, who also teaches part-time at Morehead State University, said he expects to work again, maybe after the first of the year.

“It’s in my nature,” he said. “I think I need to step away and disengage for a while and see where I am. Monday will be the first time I wake up and not have two jobs to do. I feel God has blessed me beyond what I deserve.

“I’m looking at it as an extended vacation. I love this community and have been honored to serve as public health director.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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