National Public Health Week — A Letter from the Health Director

Healthy Ozarks
3 min readApr 3, 2023

Katie Town, Director of Health for Springfield-Greene County Health

Below is a letter included in the SGCHD 2022 Annual Report published this week. To view the full report, go to Annual Report | Springfield, MO — Official Website (springfieldmo.gov).

Much of the last few years has been focused on our outputs. How many vaccines we’ve put in arms, how many families we’ve served through WIC, or the number of health assessments we’ve completed. All of this is important of course, but the impact that we have on Greene County goes far beyond just these numbers.

Every vaccine we administer is helping prevent potentially life-altering diseases. Each breastfeeding mother we educate helps ensure that a baby can grow and develop into a healthy child. The referrals we provide to clients after health assessments can give them the direction they need to improve their health and put themselves and their families on track for a better life. Every program we offer is more than a service, it is an opportunity to set someone up for success and put them on the path to living a healthier life. In 2022, the team here at the Health Department changed lives.

Looking forward, there are plenty of challenges ahead that Greene County is still facing. There are many people still suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally from the trauma inflicted by the past three years. We must contend with the politicization of our work and the rampant mis- and dis-information that is eroding people’s trust in institutions. And we must continue working toward building a healthier community, so all people have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

Thankfully, we aren’t working alone. Our partners in the City of Springfield, Greene County, CoxHealth, Mercy Springfield, Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Burrell Behavioral Health, the Healthy Living Alliance, and so many other government and community organizations are with us. Together, we can do more than react to the issues facing our community, we can help improve people’s lives.

I am so proud of our dedicated staff for continuing to live up to the expectations that have been set by our years of leadership in public health. As we look toward the future, I am excited to continue serving our community and transforming it into a place where we can all live healthier, happier and longer lives.

Katie Towns is the Director of Health for Springfield-Greene County. Before she was named as Director in 2021, Towns served assistant director, chronic disease administrator and in a variety of other roles in the community promoting health and safety since she joined the department in 2015. She helped lead Springfield’s efforts to restrict indoor smoking and later to get a local Tobacco 21 bill passed, which made it illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product — including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes — to anyone under 21. Towns also has a passion for improving mental health and her role in coordinating a regionwide mental health needs assessment for the community resulted in additional resources and improved care for individuals with mental health concerns. She also served as operational lead in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the community and has provided regional consultation and coordination.

Towns’ education includes a Master Degree in Public Health and a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Medicine/Athletic Training from Missouri State University. She is a graduate of the Missouri Foundation for Health — Health Leadership Fellow program and Leadership Springfield.

Towns is currently a member of the Missouri Women’s Health Council and has served on the Missouri State University Master’s of Public Health Advisory Council and Master of Public Health Accreditation Self Study Committee since 2009.

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