Readers’ Forum

The Hard Work Of

County Staff, Nurses Has Gone Unappreciated

To The Reader’s Forum:

A few weeks ago as the story about Fieldbrook Foods was breaking, a rather negative article appeared blasting the local health department and county government “handling” of the news. The story line was something to the effect that they were “fiddling while Rome burned” and that important issues regarding public safety were slow to emerge in face of mounting evidence in the press that there was a risk to the public.

As a long time member of the Health Department staff, initially as its Commissioner for 20-plus years, and now as a medical advisor,I find that characterization distasteful and grossly inaccurate. Having weathered a similar breaking event in 1997 (HIV-related outbreak) I remember all too well the backbreaking work behind the scenes that is necessary to verify and run down all possible issues before any public announcement of such magnitude is made. The seven days a week, 16 hour days that county staff and nurses are putting in has gone unnoticed and unappreciated while unfortunately, the article laments a lack of transparency on their part.

As part of the County Executive’s team that has meet almost daily since early March to address the health of our citizens, I can assure you that the only issues discussed are how to assure the best outcomes for all Chautauqua County residents in face of the myriad of issues that are in play each day.

Dr. Robert Berke,



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