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How does Howard County’s health officer de-stress from a pandemic year? Triathlons, cat tricks

Dr. Maura J. Rossman is Health Officer for Howard County.
Dr. Maura J. Rossman is Health Officer for Howard County. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

In Maura Rossman’s 25 years of work in public health, none has tested her mettle like the last one. As Howard County’s health officer, she has helped guide the community through the pandemic in a job she has held since 2012. Rossman, 59, is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician by trade, a mother of two grown children and a resident of Ellicott City.

Here are three things you might want to know about Rossman:

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Triathlons help her de-stress.

“I was watching the Winter Olympics [in 2002] when my bottom started to hurt from laying around so much. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous. I’ve got to get up and move.’ At 40, inspired by such incredible athletes, I began competing in sprint triathlons. I swam in high school and ran 5Ks in college, so I bought a Giant bike and started doing the Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon [0.62-mile swim, 16-mile bike, 3.1-mile run]. I’ve done 10 events so far. One year, my daughter Sarah and I won an award for the best mother/daughter finish. I do it more for my mental health; that whole endorphin thing is probably true.”

She trained her cat to sit.

“We adopted Griffin 12 years ago; he’d been abandoned in a building near work. He’s a short-haired calico who thinks he’s a dog. Most cats are aloof, but I’ve taught him to sit, and when I call his name, he sometimes will come. … Two years ago, Griffin got cancer and had an eye removed. Now the cancer is back, but he is still being loved.”

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Hosting theme parties is her pastime.

“I have a pretty intense job, so after hours, I get creative. I hold theme parties where I make costumes and props for the house. When my husband and I turned 50, we had a ‘Mad Men’ party where everyone wore clothes from the 1960s. I’ve done a sleuths’ party, where people came as their favorite detective, a medieval party and a ‘Wizard of Oz’ party. … I do this for myself, but others go along with it.”

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