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After 24 years serving at the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Director of Health Kevin Gipson today announces his intent to retire.
“It has truly been a joy to serve the citizens of Springfield and Greene County for the past 24 years and to lead such a great organization the last 13 of those years,” Gipson said. “I am leaving a department with a wealth of talent and opportunity. As I continue my career, I look to contribute as much as possible to the health and prosperity of this region.”
Gipson’s public health career spans more than 35 years, beginning in Jefferson City as a disease intervention specialist with the Missouri Department of Health. He came to SGCHD in 1993 to become the epidemiology services coordinator. In that role, Gipson conducted investigation and analysis of diseases and injuries in our jurisdiction to prevent the further spread of illness and to promote prevention.
Gipson moved up through the ranks of the department in the years following, holding the title of community health planner and administrator of health planning and epidemiology before being named the Assistant Director of Public Health and Welfare in 2002. He was named Director in 2004.
“After 24 years at the City of Springfield, Kevin has earned a reputation as a straight shooter and the voice of reason. His roles both within the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, state-wide, and nationally speak to his level of expertise in his field and the high regard in which his peers hold him. Kevin’s legacy will be the team he’s created within his department – a team loaded with talent, creativity and possibilities,” said Springfield City Manager Greg Burris.
Gipson’s time as Director of Health has been characterized by significant changes in the public health world. Gipson attributes much of the change to the progress of technology, comparing modern disease reporting—largely electronic and automated—to his experience of “shoe-leather epidemiology,” which involved pouring through paper records, building relationships with health care providers and going door-to-door to track down patients.
As is his style, Gipson doesn’t give himself much of the credit for what he considers the crowning achievement during his time as director, highlighting instead the entire department and partners for the start of and continued growth of Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
Jordan Valley is our community’s Federally Qualified Health Center, serving patients who otherwise might not be able to afford medical care to improve care access and, overall, the community’s health. Gipson served as part of the committee that applied for the grant to start the health center, and remains an active member of the board.
“We were convinced it was needed and unapologetic about it. And it’s been wildly successful,” Gipson said. “I think that’s one of our big success stories, and still is, as we see the growth of Jordan Valley and our interaction with them. It’s been such a positive influence on our community. I can’t be any prouder of what we’ve accomplished there.”
Asked about what he has been most proud of in his time as director, Gipson praises his staff without missing a beat.
“I put our staff up against anyone in the country—they’re the best and brightest. And that’s not an accident, we worked hard to find good, quality staff. That’s a point of great pride to me,” he said.
“It’s time to pass the baton. It’s time for new ideas and for new people to take over. We have great staff who are able to do that. Any job of a great leader is to replace yourself—that should be your number one priority.”
As parting wisdom, Gipson kept his focus on health.
“It’s all about health. It’s woven into the fabric of everything we do in our lives. Think of a time when your health wasn’t good—nothing else really matters. Without health, nothing else matters. I think it’s important that everyone realize that we need to think of health in everything we do,” he said.
Gipson’s final official day of work will be November 9. An announcement about his successor will come in the following weeks.
Media inquiries can be directed to Kathryn Wall at 417-874-1205 or firstname.lastname@example.org