Retirement of Dr. James Day as Livingston County Board of Health President

On December 11, Dr. James Day announced he would be stepping down from the Livingston County Board of Health after 46 years of dedicated service. Dr. Day began his journey with the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) in 1977 as he launched his longstanding career in the community as a dentist. Within a few short years, he was elected President of the Board of Health in 1983, serving in the role for 40 years.

At the Board of Health meeting on the 11th, Dr. Day shared memories of his time in service to the health department. Reflecting on past leadership, Dr. Day spoke of the work of Gladys Kohrt, the LCHD’s former Administrator and leader when Dr. Day first assumed his position on the Board of Health. “Gladys Kohrt was really the one that put this place on the map,” Dr. Day said, “She had a vision for public health.” He went on to explain that Kohrt laid the groundwork for years of successful expansion at the LCHD. “She was a force to contend with. She knew everybody by first name, and everyone knew her. She was active in the state and, in the end, this department was respected at the state-level.”

As a result of the agency’s strong history of quality leadership and care in the community, the LCHD has been afforded opportunities that would otherwise not have been offered to a small, rural county. Dr. Day explained how the LCHD’s School-based Health Center, initiated in 1995 at Pontiac Township High School, was started in Livingston County. At the time, the state was granting money for a very limited number of school clinics on a trial basis. Fast-forward to today, the School-based Health Center, like the majority of programs at LCHD, has sustained over the years, adapting to the changing needs and challenges of Livingston County residents.

Reflecting on some of the more recent work of the LCHD, Dr. Day shared his gratitude for how the LCHD staff addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. “The staff here really did an admirable job doing what had to be done…figuring out the nitty-gritty details – where to go, how to set it all up, what to do. There was little guidance during that period of time.” As to the future of the LCHD, Dr. Day expressed his strong support for a drive-thru addition to the new LCHD building. Reflecting on past pandemics and planning ahead for future endemics and pandemics, he said, “It’s going to be this group that is going to have to answer for the needs of community members. And from my perspective, a drive-thru facility checks all the boxes. It keeps people moving through in an efficient manner. And it can be used for so many other things. It really is future oriented.”

Upon announcing Dr. Day’s retirement, the Board of Health voted to appoint MaLinda Hillman, former LCHD nurse of 39 years and administrator from 1996-2019, to the role of president. As the transition took effect, Dr. Day shared in his closing remarks, “The staff needs to be proud, and the Board ought to be proud, because Livingston County Health Department is a quality organization and it’s known state-wide to be quality.”