The Buncombe County Board of Health has chosen Alma “Gibbie” Harris as the county’s new health director.
Harris has worked as Wake County’s public health director for nine years. She’s a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a bachelor’s in nursing. She is certified as s a nurse practitioner, and she holds a master’s degree in public health policy and administration.
Buncombe County’s health department has been operating without a permanent health director since the departure of Vicki Ittel in March 2008. Ittel left after less than a year in the job, saying at the time that her decision was not prompted by issues within the department. Ittel replaced George Bond, who in 10 years as health director was widely praised for his creative solutions to improving access to health care in Buncombe County.
The county health department operates on an overall budget of $20 million. Unlike many county health departments across North Carolina, Buncombe still offers primary-care services in addition to other public-health services.