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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Longtime local leader is new deputy health officer at Carroll County Health Department

The incoming deputy health officer at the Carroll County Health Department is transitioning from a tech startup to public health.

Dr. Robert Wack, board president and a founder of MAGIC — the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory — said the move makes perfect sense. He noted that he’s worked closely with the health department staff since he worked at Carroll Hospital in 1997. The collaboration continued through Access Carroll, an integrated care network, and his time on the Westminster City Council.

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Wack said the department has always been close to his heart. So, when there was an opportunity to join the department, he decided it would be “a good fit for me.”

His decision to leave MAGIC — an economic development nonprofit established to develop the potential of the county’s broadband infrastructure — was a matter of having “too many irons in the fire,” he said. He knew he wouldn’t have time to manage both jobs and that it would be hard to say goodbye. The nonprofit was like a child, he said, and “you don’t want to let go.” But, he added, “You have to let go.”

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Wack said he feels comfortable leaving MAGIC in the hands of his trusted board and knowing the organization has survived the pandemic.

Graham Dodge, the executive director of MAGIC, said Wack’s presence on the nonprofit’s board will be missed. But he compared his departure to the pruning process, saying it provides an opportunity for new people to come in and enhance the organization.

“While it’s disruptive initially, I think in the end it will allow us to keep growing,” he said.

He also expects that replacing Wack on the board will be a seamless process because of the way he and Wack have instilled MAGIC’s mission and vision in the rest of the board members over the years.

“So this isn’t so disruptive that we’re left floundering,” he said. “It’s something that we have intricately prepared for by being so well aligned with the vision of the organization that every new person involved is part of that vision. … Where you had one blossom, you now have four or five.”

A new board president has not been selected, Dodge said, but a nomination committee is evaluating potential candidates.

One of the people involved in Wack’s hiring was Ed Singer, the county health officer, who will be stepping down at the end of the month. Wack said Singer is a big part of the reason he is going to the health department, though their time as co-workers will be short.

“It certainly adds another level of challenge to it, no doubt,” Wack said about not being able to work longer with Singer.

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Singer said the decision to hire Wack was made before Singer decided to change jobs. He told Wack he was disappointed they wouldn’t be working together for a longer time, but that the health department staff is excited to be working with the former councilman.

Singer said although Wack did not have a public health background, his experience as the head of pediatrics at Carroll Hospital, his expertise in technology and his roots in Carroll County made him “highly qualified.”

Wack is taking the place of Dr. Henry Taylor, who will be staying on temporarily to help Wack through the transition before he retires. Taylor said Wack has demonstrated commitment to the greater good through Access Carroll, expanding broadband access through MAGIC, and serving Westminster as a council member.

“Most importantly, he has the perspective required for success in public health — the ability to see beyond individual sick patients,” Taylor said via email. “Appreciate how one person’s illness affects everyone’s health.”

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As deputy health officer, Taylor said his responsibilities were to be more of a technical specialist, while Singer enhanced partnerships and led the COVID response.

“Most of my work involves shaping what we do by troubleshooting, streamlining workflows and revising policies,” he said. “All these allow front line teams to focus on what they do best — serving the community.”

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He said Maryland law requires health departments to have a physician as deputy if the health officer is not a doctor. . Although the health department is a “less hierarchical organization,” Taylor said, staff members, who perform such tasks as taking samples, running tests and giving vaccinations, operate under his standing orders and protocols. He and Singer, meanwhile, confer on quarantines, isolation orders and matters that involve clinical issues.

Wack’s official starting date was Wednesday, however, he won’t be working more consistently until Oct. 26. The deputy health officer position at Carroll is part time, Wack said. He is currently the chief medical information officer at Frederick Regional Health System and will continue the part time position when he joins Carroll.

He is the president of Arcus Solutions consulting clients on broadband, and has previously served as director of pediatric services at Frederick Memorial Healthcare System as well as the director of Carroll Hospital’s pediatrics. Wack also spent four years as a pediatrician for the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

One thing Wack said he is going to miss about MAGIC is the excitement of creating new things.

“That’s always going to be the fun of MAGIC,” he said. “Hopefully, I can bring some of that magic to the health department.”


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