New director hired for Carter/ Johnson County Health Departments

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

The Carter and Johnson County Health Departments are under new leadership. Caroline Hurt has filled the vacancy left this fall when former director, Dwayne Austin, retired.
   Hurt was officially hired as director of both Carter and Johnson County Health Departments, Jan. 6, 2003. The former regional director of community services believes her experience will be beneficial as she leads the area health departments.
   "I bring to this post some very good background in grants and contracts, strategic health planning, and assessment and evaluation," Hurt said.
   Hurt has served with the Bureau of Health Services in upper East Tennessee for approximately 12 years. She began her career working with Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services and became the regional prevention coordinator, where she gained experience working in Carter and Johnson Counties.
   "I was able to work in all of the seven rural counties in East Tennessee and got to learn first hand about what wonderful places they are to live," Hurt said.
   Hurt added that her previous work experience has allowed her to spend a lot of valuable time in Carter and Johnson Counties which she will be serving as health department director. She has had the opportunity to work with key organizations in the counties, as well as community leaders.
   The new director is an East Tennessee State University graduate with a bachelor of science degree in English. She specialized in technical writing and communications while in college, and believes that the training will help her relay important health information to the community.
   Hurt's main goal as a new director is to increase the community's awareness of the services offered by the local health departments. She added that the services offered at the departments are designed to benefit all sects of the local population.
   "That is my main goal starting out, to make our services known to the public," Hurt said. "I am going to try to be as visible as possible in the community, and more broadly known by the general public so that people are more and more aware that our services impact everyone. They are not just for select members of the community."
   There are some places where the new director would like to see some improvements on public health issues. She sees the communication structures and systems, as well as the educational venues as areas that could be improved in Carter County.
   According to Hurt, Carter County has strength in its personal independence, and the resident's ability to adapt when faced with various challenges. She also noted that the area has a strong network of health care providers.
   Hurt is the daughter of Jack and Shirley Ann Chinouth of Johnson City. She lives off of the Milligan Hwy. with her husband Daniel C. Hurt.