County Executive Robert R. Neall has named Frances B. Phillips to head the county Health Department.
Ms. Phillips, 42, currently is the department's chief of program planning and development.
She is a registered nurse who joined the department in 1988 and developed the county's first HIV case-management program. That background will serve her well, she said yesterday.
"The nature of nursing has a lot more emphasis on preventative efforts, on low-tech, on community and family-oriented perspectives," she explained. "And that is consistent with the objectives of public health."
In a statement released yesterday, Mr. Neall called Ms. Phillips an "exceptional administrator and health care professional" whose "nursing background and success in forging partnerships with the private health care community are excellent qualifications for this new position."
Her appointment to the $70,000-a-year post must be approved by the County Council and secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. A resolution nominating Ms. Phillips to the post will come before the council at its meeting Monday.
Ms. Phillips succeeds Tom Andrews, who will become the coordinator of the Land Use and Environment Core Group Manager July 1 under the recently approved reorganization of county government.
The new health officer will take over a department of 400 employees that has been wracked by deep cuts in state funding over the past two fiscal years.
In fiscal 1991, the state grant was cut from $4 million to nothing. It is to rise to $2.6 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
"It's been a roller coaster," Ms. Phillips said. "But to be optimistic, I think things are beginning to smooth out."
Ms. Phillips served three years ago as the coordinator of a comprehensive health survey of county residents, one of the first dTC such county-wide assessments done in the nation.
The findings of that survey are "what's leading and driving a lot of the decisions and priorities that we're looking at," she said.
Ms. Phillips said she will concentrate the department's resources on primary care for the working poor and their children, on cancer prevention, access to mental health and substance abuse services, and generating specific information about environmental risks faced by county residents.
Ms. Phillips received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Catholic University of America and holds a master's degree in health services from George Washington University. She also was a research associate in the Scholars Program of the Veterans Administration.
She has worked as a pediatric nurse, an emergency room nurse supervisor and clinical reviewer in the Division of Financial Services of George Washington University Medical Center in Washington.