New Chatham Co. Health Department leader steps into role during pandemic

New Chatham Co. Health Department leader steps into role during pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Chatham County Health Department has a new leader. He’s stepping into the role in the midst of a pandemic, but it’s nothing new for him.

Dr. Chris Rustin is just two weeks into his new job with the Chatham County Health Department. Though he’s new to the title of administrator, he has a long history in public health. Just before taking this job, he worked for State Department of Public Health in Atlanta as the leader of the largest division and oversaw the operational response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the state.

“I think what I bring to the table is an awareness of what other counties are doing, which I think we learn from each other. So, I can take that knowledge and use that to improve the operations here at the health department,” Dr. Rustin said.

While he is still getting settled in, he says he’s watched Chatham County’s response to COVID-19 and been impressed with the dedicated staff and community efforts to slow the spread.

“The awareness that this health department and this district has made to the public that wearing a mask protects you and your family has certainly contributed to what we’re seeing now, we’re not out of the woods yet, there’s still a lot of work to do, but I think we’re certainly trending in the right direction,” Dr. Rustin said.

Though Dr. Rustin is leaving a high-profile job in Atlanta, he says coming back home to the coast was his dream.

“I loved the opportunity that I was given, the work that I was doing at the department, but I was always looking for a reason or an opportunity to return to the coast. But it had to be the right position and for me this was the right position, this is what I consider my dream job and I’m excited to be here,” Dr. Rustin said.

Dr. Rustin grew up in the area, graduated from Armstrong and Georgia Southern and says this is home. He will work alongside Dr. Lawton Davis and says he’s quickly working to learn all the health department programs.

“Every day is a day to reflect on how we can improve for the future and so that’s my goal here at the health department, to continue that improvement process and ensure that the citizens and visitors public health is protected,” Dr. Rustin said.

He has hit the ground running and says there will be a time to slow down, but during the pandemic public health must persist for our community.

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