Meet Luana Gibbs: Q&A with the interim health director
Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Last week, Hyde County Health Department announced its decision to appoint Luana Gibbs as interim health director.
Gibbs has worked with the health department for almost 20 years and worked her way up through the years, according to a press release.
She is working toward earning a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and upon completion, will move into the position of permanent health director, the release stated.
Gibbs follows former Director David Howard, who served in the position for about a year.
Below, Gibbs speaks about her background, her current pursuits and vision for the future of Hyde County Health Department.
Where are you from?
I am from Hyde County and lived here my entire life. For the past 34 years, my husband and I have lived in Middletown.
Where did you attend college?
I have an associate degree in nursing that I obtained from Beaufort County Community College in 2002. I am now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in nonprofit administration.
I have been married since 1982 to C.R. Gibbs. We have two grown children — our daughter Cameron Gibbs and our son Ryan Gibbs. My family is my life.
What are your hobbies?
Hobbies include anything that has to do with the water. I absolutely love being on it, in it, around it. I have actually taken vacation in the past in order to go commercial fishing with C.R. and Ryan. It’s not a “fun-filled” day of sunbathing on the bow of the boat. They put me to work, but I love it! Swimming, sitting by the ocean, riding in a boat, kayaking…all passions. I also enjoy music and reading.
What is your background in health care?
In 1998 I started working at the health department in a clerical position. I was exposed to nursing from a public health view, versus “hospital” nursing, and decided to pursue a career in that. The health department was very supportive of my decision to go to school for this, allowed me to work part-time while going to school (I eventually had to quit), and hired me on as a public health nurse once I graduated in 2002. From there, I have stayed in public health and grown in my role from PH nurse to supervisor and now interim health director.
What is your vision for the health department in the near future?
My short-term vision is to really draw upon the energetic staff I have. They have so many great ideas and “think outside of the box.” They are truly engaged with our mission, which is to “promote, protect and assure the health of Hyde County and surrounding areas by providing public health services essential for a safe and healthy community.” I can see us integrating multimedia, digital platforms to appeal to certain populations. It’s all about reaching folks in the way that works for them, environmentally, socially and emotionally. So, to sum up my vision, I want improved population engagement by empowering my staff to take the ball and run with it!
Are there some new things you would like to build on or implement?
I would love for us to lose the stigma that has so long been associated with public health departments. Yes, we are a safety net for folks who do not have access to health care, for whatever reason. However, we are here for anyone who desires health care services. We have opened a primary care clinic that is available daily during the work week in Swan Quarter, which handles a variety of health care needs from preventive services like immunizations, to acute care such as treatment for ear infection, to chronic disease management for diseases like diabetes or hypertension. Our provider is a local nurse practitioner, and we now accept private insurance as well as government insurance. I really want to see Hyde County folks take advantage of this health care setting we are so blessed to have.
What about serving in health care appeals to you?
I love the idea of helping others help themselves within the community. Prevention is where health care should start, so if folks are empowered to live well and given the tools to do that, the goal can be accomplished. Promotion and protection of health are also components of the community health model, so serving in health care also encompasses environmental health, such as food and water protection, as well as protection from bioterrorism events. It all works together and is a system that has appealed to me since my exposure to it 18 years ago. There is much work to do, but it is all for the good of the people.
What would you like to say to the people of Hyde County?
Hyde County, I am one of your own. My alliances are with you, and together we can all stay strong and work hard to be healthy individuals within a healthy community!