37 year career helping Chippewa Co. coming to an end - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

37 year career helping Chippewa Co. coming to an end


Chippewa Co. (WQOW) - There will be a new face in charge of Chippewa County's Health Department when long time director Jean Durch retires next month.

Durch began working with Chippewa County as a nurse 37 years ago. "I was here in '76 when we had the original swine flu immunization program. And that was a big deal, and at the time they thought that was going to be widespread."

The swine flu made a comeback in 2010 but Durch says technology made fighting it a little bit easier. "The distribution systems have improved, the communication systems have improved. The ability to find that virus, and to develop a vaccine in as short a time as they could. That would never have happened in the 70's."

Durch says simply getting out ahead of the problem is one thing that has evolved in the public health field over time. "There are many more vaccines against many more illnesses. When we first started, we didn't do annual flu shots. Now in the last ten to fifteen years, that has changed."

Starting as public health director in 1991, Durch was able to help the same people she'd been surrounded by since the beginning.

The Public Health Division Manager, Debbie Odden says, "Jean brings the local perspective. She's been a resident of Chippewa County all her life, so she has that very intimate knowledge of Chippewa County."

But even helping people she may never meet is something Durch says she'll miss when she retires. "Look at where we are with smoking. You can have smoke free public places. That was a long time coming, and took a lot of work, but was worth it."

Durch's last day on the job will be March, 14th. After that she will be working with Ethan's Reason a non-profit group working to cure Batten's Disease.


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