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Wright ready to step in

Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 07:58 PM

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Robin Wright admits her twin jobs as administrator of Putnam County Health Department and interim administrator of the Citrus County facility have kept her busy.

She's been overseeing the Putnam department since 2008 and was asked last August to help staff get the Citrus agency on solid footing.

But starting in January, she hopes to wrap up all her duties so she can devote her full attention to her new job: administrator of the Hernando County Health Department.

And after talking with staffers here and touring what she calls the "gorgeous" facility on Forest Oaks Boulevard, she admits she can't wait to begin her latest assignment. She already has big plans to move the department forward.

"My vision for the Hernando County Health Department is to have an overall strategy to improve the health of Hernando County," Wright said in a telephone interview with Hernando Today. "That's my role: to bring the community together, leverage resources and make that happen. It sounds like Hernando is a great place to do it."

Wright was officially hired earlier this month, succeeding Philip Spence, who submitted his resignation in September and officially left Nov. 30.

Wright, 46, has a bachelor's degree from Georgia Southwestern University and a master's degree in accounting from the University of North Florida. She will make $98,261 annually. By comparison, Spence made $95,000.

Wright praised Spence's work with the department and said he left the agency on a sound financial footing.

Spence inherited a budget reserve fund at a negative 3.2 percent of the department's total $7 million budget.

When he retired, almost one year to the day he was hired, the fund stood at 6.6 percent, the minimum requirement.

"I think Phil was a solid leader," said Wright, adding that he placed the health department on "a very stable track."

Wright said her management style as "participatory" and is similar to Spence.

"I like to include people in the decision-making (process)," Wright said. "I am very approachable."

Wright said she plans to dig deeper into the health department's recently completed community needs assessment, which identifies the wants, needs and goals of the agency.

"For me, this is the perfect time to come into the health department," Wright said.

"The first step is to learn the community, the partners, goals and strategies they have identified so we can get a mission formed."

The next step is to put together a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for the department.

That was the same process she followed in Putnam County and it worked to the benefit of all, she said.

An avid fisher and boater, Wright describes herself as an outdoors person. She likes football and golf. She doesn't have much time to watch television and, other than trade journals, doesn't read much.

"Anything on the water," she joked. "It's so beautiful over here on the Gulf Coast."

Wright said she wants to continue an initiative that promotes dental hygiene in children.

There must continue to be an outreach to parents stressing that future health problems can be averted if early teeth cleanings are followed in children, she said.

Pre-natal care will also be a top concern.

Wright said she would like her department to be involved in the countywide mental health alliance proposed by County Commissioner Diane Rowden.

"I think it is being brought to the forefront because of what is happening in society," Wright said.

Ann-Gayl Ellis, public information officer for the health department, said Hernando County is fortunate to obtain someone of Wright's caliber to pick up and move forward from where Spence left off.

Kathleen Sauskojus, who had been filling in as interim administrator before Wright was hired, said the Hernando County Health Department has experienced its share of change in service location, leadership and staffing the past three years.

Sauskojus said staffers welcome Wright, "who brings strong leadership, proven financial management skills and a sense of long-term commitment to the Florida Department of Health and local health department." (352) 544-5290

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