SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — KELOLAND News had the opportunity Monday afternoon to meet the person slated to become the next public health director for the City of Sioux Falls.
In addition to being a medical doctor, Dr. Charles Chima has a master’s degree in epidemiology and a doctorate in public health. He most recently worked at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. On Monday he praised the work done by South Dakota’s largest city with regard to COVID-19.
“I think the city has really been a great example of how it can work with the private sector to get things done without getting into unnecessary political debates right … on both ends of the spectrum,” Chima said. “But really focus on solutions that work for the community and that gets us ahead.”
He also touched on connecting people to vaccines and what comes next.
“We have to figure out ways to get a vaccine to people and make it much easier for them, besides having availability and appointments,” Chima said. “So that’s going to be a priority. But once we get out of pandemic mode, we get out of the public health emergency, then we come back to the status quo.”
That, of course, had more than a few health challenges for the community at large.
“The status quo was one that had its own challenges to start with, so even before the pandemic that everyone knows about now, we had a lot of silent epidemics going on,” Chima said.
“One of the things that I really appreciated when I was interviewing with Charles was he was really interested in our parks department and our Planning Department and housing and asking a lot of questions that a lot of times many people in the public don’t connect to health,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.
Dr. Chima’s appointment is pending the approval of the city council. That’s set to happen on Tuesday.