New Sauk County Health Officer takes department reins

Newly hired Sauk County Public Health Officer Treemanisha Stewart addresses the county board for the first time at the boards Feb. 15 regular board meeting. Photo by Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief

Last month, the Sauk County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint Treemanisha Stewart to serve as the county’s Public Health Officer. Stewart started work in the county Feb. 1.
Valley Sentinel spoke with Stewart regarding her first weeks on the job, her experience and her goals for the county health department. Below are her answers.

Valley Sentinel: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How will this help you in your position in Sauk County?
Treemanisha Stewart: My name is Treemanisha Stewart and I was born and raised in rural southern New Jersey. I went to the big city of Washington DC for college; so I have experienced both urban and rural life. I have worked in the non-profit, education and government (local and state) sectors and have volunteered in a multitude of capacities including being a firefighter. I think my varied experiences complements the Sauk County community. I have worked boots on the ground at the community level and with law makers to make systemic changes. I am very personable and love working in the community. I believe team work and collaboration are the most valuable tools we have to affect positive change.

VS: How do you feel your first week (or so) went?
TS: I feel it went pretty well. I have met lots of wonderful people that are so passionate about what they do, it really is amazing to be a part of a department that is so hospitable.

VS: What are some goals for the Sauk County Health Department? What is on the horizon for the health department?
TS: It is obvious that the Department was working on some very progressive projects and then COVID diverted their responsibilities. After I can fully immerse myself in the health programs and post our COVID response; I really want us to pick up where they left off. The work they were starting was really exciting!

VS: What are a few of the most pressing challenges facing the department?
TS: COVID has really engulfed all of our attention. We really want to ensure that people are testing if they have symptoms and that when they are eligible they get vaccinated. The community partnerships for testing and vaccinations is exceptional, so although we take on a lot in planning; with our partnerships the execution is bar none.

VS: As the department head, how do you plan to tackle COVID-19?
TS: The Health Department has done a good job of communicating a consistent message. We follow the CDC and State guidelines. We have been encouraging testing and vaccinations (when eligible) along with (an acronym I created to help me memorize) SWWW: Stay home, Wear your mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance. The guidelines, testing and vaccines will help us see the end to this quicker. We see some light at the end of the tunnel but we are not there yet; we just need to stay the path for a little while longer.