PITTSBURG, Kan. — As COVID-19 numbers and deaths once again spike throughout the county as the holiday season winds down, the Crawford County Health Department announced at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting that there will soon be a new deputy public health officer and health department director.  

Teddi Van Kam, an epi nurse at the Health Department who has been treating COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, will be taking over effective immediately as deputy public health officer and Health Department director for Dr. Linda Bean and Janis Goedeke, respectively.  

“Teddi was one of the first nurses, from the very beginning, to start taking phone calls and passing out quarantine and isolation orders. She has a very solid base knowledge about the virus and quarantine guidelines and isolation procedures,” Crawford County Mental Health Center Executive Administrator Michael Ehling said. “Whenever I would visit the epi center Teddi, even from the very beginning, was always the person who spoke up and gave me information and was in command.” 

While Van Kam will begin transitioning into her new roles immediately, Bean and Goedeke will continue to serve in consultant capacities until June 2021 while Van Kam gets acclimated.   

Bean and Goedeke, along with Public Health Officer Dr. Tim Stebbins, have been with the Health Department since June, when former Public Health Officer and Health Department Director Rebecca Adamson resigned.  

Ehling said the county always knew that Bean, Goedeke and Stebbins were temporary solutions, and the hiring of Van Kam marks the transition to something more permanent.  

“It may or may not have been public knowledge, but all this has really been a temporary solution and we knew that going in,” Ehling said.  

Stebbins, who recently was named the system medical director over emergency sites in Pittsburg, Manhattan and Fort Scott and also serves as Ascension Via Christi’s Director of the Emergency Department in Pittsburg, has been given permission by the hospital to continue serving as the Crawford County’s Public Health Officer through June 2021 at which time the county will announce his replacement.  

At Tuesday’s meeting, Bean — who also serves as the chief medical officer for Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas — thanked the commission for all their work during the pandemic and said it had been a privilege to serve as deputy health officer.  

“I just want to thank the commission and everyone at the health department for allowing me to serve as the deputy health officer and for trusting me during this time,” Bean said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”  

Goedeke echoed Bean’s sentiments, adding that she was looking forward to seeing what Van Kam would do. 

“Teddi has shown a strong resilience and a calmness and good judgement and leadership,” Goedeke said.  “I just think she is going to be excellent.”  

Van Kam then addressed the commission, expressing her thanks for the opportunity and her excitement to get started.  

“I look forward to this new challenge. I love Crawford County. I was born and raised here, and I appreciate that you’ve afforded me this opportunity,” Van Kam said. “Thank you so much and we’ll be seeing lots more of each other.”