The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on April 26 appointed the county’s Public Health Director Rachael Banks to serve in as public health administrator.
State law requires each Local Public Health Authority appoint a public health administrator to supervise the public health programs of the local health department, and to enforce state public health laws. The administrator helps the county develop public health policies, and has oversight of investigations of reportable diseases and infections, and appropriate control measures to contain infections and diseases. In some counties, including Multnomah, the public health director holds the position of public health administrator.
Banks, appointed in December 2017 as director of the Public Health Division, has focused on narrowing health disparities among communities of color since joining the county in 2002. She began as a community health worker focused on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and hepatitis. Three years later she took on a broader role as a health educator to help public health staff better reach communities of color and others disproportionately impacted by health disparities.
Banks went on to work as a senior program development specialist focused on public health policy and community engagement, then as a program supervisor for community wellness and prevention. She became director of the Health Birth Initiative, securing millions in grant money and teaming up with nonprofits and other partners to improve the health of mothers, infants and children. And she oversaw a $3 million, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, or REACH, grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to focus on tobacco prevention and improving access to nutritious food for African American residents.
As director, Banks oversees the Public Health Division and leads an Equity, Planning and Strategy unit to craft culturally-specific outreach to and programming for African American, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander and refugee and immigrant residents.