Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long retiring May 31

Pittsboro, NC – Chatham County Public Health Director Layton Long will retire May 31, 2020, after 32 years of service with state and local public health agencies, including the last six and half years in Chatham County.

Chatham County Health Director Layton Long
Chatham County Health Director Layton Long

Long initially made plans in late 2019 to retire April 30, 2020. However, with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Long decided to extend his service to Chatham County for an additional month.

“It has certainly been a challenging and intense time for me at the end of my career, but our work responding to the coronavirus has shown me why I chose public health as my career path,” said Long. “Our efforts in battling the virus have brought what public health does every day to the forefront. I hope that it will leave the public and policy makers with a better understanding of the importance of public health services to our community.”     

While COVID-19 is marking the end of Long’s impactful public health career, there are numerous programs and accomplishments in which the department, under Long’s leadership, was instrumental in implementing to enhance public health in the Chatham County community.

Long says he is glad to have had the opportunity to participate in the department’s success with efforts including: the development of the Chatham Health Alliance, ongoing work to improve health equity, the Health in All Policies component of the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan, the countywide Tobacco-free Ordinance, the school health coordinator position in the Chatham County Public School System and passage of the Comprehensive School Health Curriculum by the Chatham County School Board, collaboration with Piedmont Health Services (PHS) on alignment of services and co-location, work with Chatham Hospital and PHS on the new labor and delivery unit, and the cohort study for the Chatham County Community Assessment.

The Chatham County Board of Health calls Long a visionary leader and change agent for Chatham County. “Layton has led the Chatham County Health Department by developing in-person and online outreach programs, adjusted clinical services to meet the changing needs of the community, and built partnerships with local and state agencies, all while mentoring and supporting his teams on a daily basis,” said Chatham County Board of Health Chair Carol Reitz-Barlow. “The Chatham County Board of Health supports Layton’s desire to enter into the milestone of retirement, and we are eternally grateful for the countless contributions he has made to our community.” 

Long says looking back on his time in Chatham County, he is thankful for the collaboration between public health and the community. “I think the thing I will miss most is working with all the community agencies and partners to improve services for our residents,” said Long. “I have always enjoyed seeing people come together and put together new ideas and projects that provide expanded services to the community and maximize the resources available within the county.” 

The Chatham County Board of Health selected Mike Zelek, Division Director, Health Promotion and Policy, as interim public health director. “Mike has a great vision for public health and has emerged as a leader in the community and at the state level in the time I have known him,” said Long. “I am confident he will meet the challenges of being a health director and will serve the department and Chatham community well.”

Long says he looks forward to spending more time with his family, working on projects in his woodworking shop, going on fishing trips, and traveling when life returns to normal.