A doctor who led the successful COVID-19 response in the Navajo Nation in Arizona is returning to Maine to serve as director of the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said Thursday.
Dr. Puthiery Va earned her medical degree at the University of New England in Maine. She has extensive experience in primary clinical care, epidemiology and public health emergency response, making her well-equipped to deal with Maine’s public health challenges, said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
‘Dr. Va has been a front-line leader — as well as a clinician and epidemiologist — during a global health emergency following a distinguished role as a disease investigator at the U.S. CDC,’ Lambrew said.
Va is currently of director of public health at the Indian Health Service’s Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility in Arizona. There she exhibited ‘exceptional leadership and tireless dedication’ in working with the Navajo community during the pandemic and became a source of ‘unwavering hope and healing,’ said Roselyn Tso, director of the Indian Health Service.
She will replace Dr. Nirav Shah, whose profile was lifted during the pandemic. Shah left the post to serve as principal deputy director of the national Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.