The Public Health staff of Haywood County Health and Human Services would like to publicly congratulate Health Director, Patrick Johnson, on his retirement and thank him for his years of service and leadership excellence.
Patrick was born and raised in Minnesota. He spent 27 years in the United States Air Force Reserve and rose to the rank of Colonel (Chief Nurse Executive). His military career was spent delivering clinical and administrative medical services around the globe, including tours of duty in both Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He also gathered 31 years of public health experience and expertise as a community health nurse, epidemiology director, and health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Volusia and Flagler Counties before joining us here in the mountains.
Patrick came to Haywood County Health and Human Services in July 2015 as the Director of Nursing and became Health Director in January 2016.
Patrick has accomplished a lot during his relatively brief time with us and never hesitated to seek solutions to address internal and community issues. He oversaw the improvement of a lot of service delivery efficiencies and helped usher in electronic health records for clinical and dental services, as well as online restaurant inspections records. He launched innovative initiatives such as providing pack-and-plays for eligible families to ensure safe sleep spaces for infants, giving away donated children’s books in the agency waiting areas to encourage literacy, supporting and promoting a variety of harm reduction initiatives and coalitions, and establishing an employee wellness program.
Patrick’s integrity, approachability, humor, communication style, practical way of addressing complex issues, and trust in his employees fostered a great sense of camaraderie and confidence among staff and helped shape the Public Health division into a driven and unified cross-disciplinary team.
Patrick also became a valued and trusted teammate to the other service directors within the agency. His knowledge, professionalism, and proven dedication to agency staff and the well-being of Haywood County citizens resulted in him serving as Interim Agency Director for a portion of 2017 and 2018.
Patrick had initially planned on a retirement date earlier in 2020, but, in typical fashion, delayed retirement in service of his staff and the community when COVID-19 came knocking. We were incredibly lucky to have Patrick and his extensive military hospital triage and coordination experience when the pandemic hit. There’s no doubt that his experience and leadership put our Public Health team on more solid footing to hit the ground running during these unprecedented and challenging times, and we greatly appreciate that he stayed at his post until the Public Health COVID-19 team had the time to build and fully establish the capacity, practices, tools, and protocols needed to see us through.
Patrick’s staff regard him with a great deal of both respect and affection. We will miss him terribly, but wish him nothing but the best in retirement. We rest assured knowing that he will continue to find ways to serve his adopted community in Haywood County.
Thank you for everything, Patrick Johnson, and happy retirement!