Six months removed from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, former Director Clay Goddard has public health goals statewide in the works.
Goddard this morning spoke about his new role with St. Louis-based Missouri Foundation for Health during Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know series. He was interviewed live at Hilton Garden Inn by SBJ Editorial Vice President Eric Olson.
The foundation's senior director of public health transformation since March, Goddard said he's working to assist the state's 116 autonomous local health departments become better prepared to tackle health crises.
“The pandemic has certainly laid bare the failures of public health," Goddard said.
The Missouri Foundation for Health is pushing for local health departments to be accredited, Goddard said, pointing to Ohio and Kentucky as examples of public health systems worth emulating.
"We've not been very good stewards of data," he said of Missouri’s Health Department, noting data must be delivered quickly on the state and local levels. "Nothing eases anxiety better than transparency."
Goddard said creating a better public health system in Missouri would require more equal funding statewide to invest in studies of health in such areas as epidemiology. Additionally, he said health care equity must be addressed, specifically when it comes to disproportionate effects on urban and rural communities. Goddard also is working to influence where some $100 million in federal dollars headed to Missouri is spent.
Asked to examine the response to COVID-19 by the city, county and Health Department amid the pandemic, Goddard said the community, as a whole, has been “on the right side of history.”
"We did a lot of things right," he said, acknowledging tough moments during the pandemic he said had to be led by science. "Masking has not been a lot of fun."
Goddard also spoke about his successor at the Health Department: Katie Towns, who took on the director position permanently in July.
“If I were to choose my successor, it would have been Katie," Goddard said. "She’s got all the tools. She’s equal parts tenacious and compassionate.”
Read the profiles of this year's honorees.