Tim McDonald mug in March 12

The Snohomish Health District's gain will be Island County's loss.

Health Services Director Tim McDonald will officially conclude his nearly 28 years with the county April 4.

McDonald will begin his tenure as the Snohomish Health District's director of the Communicable Disease Control Division April 15.

The Central Whidbey resident started with the county in July 1980 as environmental health specialist. He was then promoted to environmental health director, the position Keith Higman now occupies. In 1987 he was appointed health services director.

McDonald said the last 20 years has seen county health efforts markedly improve and expand.

"The Health Department has done a lot in providing residents protection from communicable disease, environmental hazards and promoting healthy behavior," he said.

McDonald recalled the less-than-ideal working conditions two decades ago. Every section of the Health Department was crammed into a small space in the annex.

"It was very difficult to provide services," he said. "We now have facilities in Oak Harbor, South Whidbey and Camano Island."

In addition, the nursing facilities have been separated in Coupeville to provide more privacy and space.

"We've substantially expanded our services in nursing and environmental health. I'm proud of the strides we've taken," he said,

Higman said McDonald will leave a legacy of a highly effective, straightforward approach and an inimitable dedication to his work.

"Everything he has done for this community has been based upon his dedication to public health, holding the community at the forefront of this department's decisions," Higman said. "He's invested 27 years of his life in Island County and we will miss him greatly."

County Commissioner John Dean echoed Higman's sentiments and lamented the capabilities that will leave with McDonald.

"It is always a loss when someone as rich in talent and experience leaves the county, but I am happy for Tim, professionally, and wish him the best," Dean said. "The people of Snohomish County will be well served."

McDonald, who will continue to reside on Whidbey Island with his wife Laura, is confident that he is leaving the Health Department in highly capable hands. He credited his staff with the department's evolution and the unprecedented community support.

"The strength of the agency comes from the outstanding professionals who work here," said. "And we get great support from our community through the numerous advisory boards."

In his new position, McDonald will oversee the staff and administrative operations of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted disease, public health emergency preparedness and response, and other communicable disease programs.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.

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