Dr. Lynne Saddler leaving Northern Kentucky Health Dept. at the end of the year

Dr. Lynne Saddler leaving Northern Kentucky Health Dept.  at the end of the year

In 2016, Grant County became the first community in Northern Kentucky to provide a syringe access program, centered at a health clinic in Williamstown, for people who inject drugs. In 2016, Northern Kentucky health officials, often Saddler with epidemiologists in tow, went on a community-education campaign, presenting information about infectious diseases and syringe exchange to 66 organizations, including city and county commissions, and reached more than 2,400 people doing it, records show. Quick look: Harm reduction history in Greater Cincinnati

Soon after she became district director, Saddler took a front-line, public health position in efforts to curb the then-heroin epidemic, which has morphed over the years to a fentanyl crisis. The path Saddler took was an attempt to curb a raging hepatitis C caseload, which had emerged as a direct result of the heroin crisis. “I am honored to have been in the service of public health here in Northern Kentucky for the past decade,” Saddler said in a statement released Wednesday. She plans to leave Dec. 31, saying the departure date will give the Northern Kentucky Board of Health ample time to conduct a search for her replacement.

Saddler and her epidemiologists developed plans for a Syringe Access Exchange Program in Northern Kentucky, headed by her department, after the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation in 2015 that allowed health officials to initiate a process to get them in place.  Saddler started with the health department that covers Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties in 2010.

“This is a good time for the agency to transition to new leadership,” Saddler said. “NKY is in a much better point in the pandemic now, as COVID vaccinations continue to increase, and the agency can start planning for the future with new leadership and fresh perspectives.” Source Most recently, she’s headed the department’s prevention efforts and public information notices about the novel coronavirus, issuing statements about how it’s affecting Northern Kentuckians and how to prevent further spread, and leading the region’s public health COVID-19 vaccine effort.

Saddler’s team has hit head-on other public health concerns in Northern Kentucky with campaigns to reduce smoking rates, inform the public of flu dangers, inform people of whooping cough outbreaks and other childhood diseases, among other issues. Then there was a surge in HIV cases in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. It was attributed largely to injection drug use, and the CDC recommended exchanges. By 2018, Kenton and Campbell counties joined the effort, with mobile exchange units in Covington and Newport.

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