Public service

A Public Service Profile for Pandemic Operations by Chris Coudriet

As I shared last November, New Hanover County commissioners and staff developed an innovative model, through the use of U.S. bailout funds, to create a pandemic operations team to support the community in our continued fight against COVID-19.

They will not only support today’s efforts, but will continue as COVID-19 becomes more endemic, and will also respond to different variants and other new diseases not yet here or known at this time.

I’m happy to report that the team is coming together and in December our Pandemic Operations Manager, Jon Campbell, took over. Jon and his team have already demonstrated how helpful they are in organizing COVID testing and vaccination sites, equitably distributing testing supplies in the community, and offering N95 masks to local partners and residents in various locations. So for my post this month, I asked Jon to share some info on who he is and what he thinks is important as we move forward. That conversation is below…

Tell us about your background and why you were interested in this role.

Jon: Prior to moving into Pandemic Operations Manager in New Hanover County, I worked in the emergency department for 13 years as a physician assistant, and in the past year I have helped New Hanover County distribute vaccines as a member of the military. National Guard. I was excited to learn more about the Pandemic Operations Manager role, as it was a progressive new division designed to immediately help our community and plan for future pandemics, and would allow me to use the skills I valued the most in my previous roles.

What is the most important information our community should know right now regarding COVID?

Jon: COVID has affected everyone in our community in one way or another and it’s important to acknowledge that. We all need to focus on what we can control, and that starts with an individual. It’s important to lead a healthy lifestyle to ensure your immune system is strong, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep. Beyond that, consider getting your COVID shot/booster, stay home if you’re not feeling well, and consider wearing a mask if you’ll be in congested areas.

What can we expect in the coming months related to the pandemic?

Jon: The COVID pandemic has been a learning experience for all of us. We have seen several variations emerge and different medical therapies evolve for the treatment of people with COVID. It’s hard to know exactly what the next few months will bring; however, the Pandemic Operations Team will strive to stay abreast of pandemic trends to better support New Hanover County.

What is your vision for the Pandemic Operations team?

Jon: My vision for the Pandemic Operations team is to support our community during the current COVID pandemic by facilitating access to vaccines, testing supplies, and education. The team will work with our community to move forward in the current pandemic as well as to prepare and equip our community to deal with any future pandemic.

What are some of your trusted resources and sources of information?

Jon: It can be difficult to navigate through all the information available regarding COVID. Some of the resources that I have found to be the most accurate and informative are the Centers for Disease Control website – cdc.govand I also regularly listen to a podcast called, This week in virology. The podcast does a series every Saturday called “COVID-19 Clinical Update” which reviews any new research but also answers questions that listeners have sent in.

I appreciate Jon’s expertise, medical background and familiarity with our county’s operations. I believe we are in good hands with his leadership.

Our county employees are bright, talented and committed to public service and I plan to feature several public service profile articles this year featuring various staff members. I look forward to hearing from you about them and learning about the incredible work they do on behalf and directly for our community.

Photo caption: Jon Campbell, Pandemic Operations Manager, at the county’s COVID-19 testing site in December.

New Hanover County Executive Chris Coudriet is the chief administrator of county government and retains responsibility for the administration of all departments under the overall control of the five-member Board of Commissioners.

His work includes developing the county budget, aligning county operations with the adopted strategic plan, and promoting the county’s mission and vision through five key areas: superior public health, safety and education, growth smart and economic development, productive strategic partnerships, strong financial performance and effective county management. He is assisted by two deputy directors.

Coudriet has served as county executive since July 2012. Prior to his appointment, he served as deputy county executive for New Hanover for four years and county executive in Franklin and Washington counties, North Carolina. He has 20 years of experience in public administration, with more than a decade as a county executive in North Carolina.