The Elk Grove City Council on July 10 unanimously adopted an ordinance appointing Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye as the city’s health officer.
A city health and safety code requires Elk Grove to have a health officer, unless the city has made other arrangements.
Kasirye’s new role as the city health officer is to monitor the health of the community. She also has the authority to enforce orders related to public health, as well as preventative measures to protect residents from health hazards during local and state emergencies.
Kasirye has a background that includes receiving part of her medical education in Uganda.
“I came to the United States over 30 years ago and received (a master’s degree) in epidemiology at UC Davis, and I’ve been working in the public health field for over 25 years,” she said.
Prior to being appointed as Sacramento County’s public health officer in 2012, Kasirye served for three years as the El Dorado County public health officer.
In addition to Kasirye, Nick Mori, program planner for the county, will work as the designated liaison with the city.
“Any time a public health issue might arise that impacts one of the cities within the county of Sacramento, we just want to make sure that we communicate that to the local municipalities, so that they’re aware of what’s going on within their jurisdiction and any action that we might be taking related to it,” Mori said. “I’m proud to say that Elk Grove is the first city to formally adopt an ordinance recognizing the authority of the public health officer here in Sacramento County.”
Mori’s role also includes responding to the city’s public health-related inquiries.
Both Kasirye and Mori will be available to give presentations on the health status of Elk Grove.
Kasirye told the council that she will address any public health concerns, upon the request of the city.
She noted that she desires to communicate with the city in and outside of major crises.
“Our hope is that, in addition to this ordinance, we would work to further improve communication, instead of waiting until there’s a major crisis, that we would have regular communication with (the city) if there are issues that we think are of importance to Elk Grove,” Kasirye said.
She noted that the Elk Grove Police Department is a participant in the newly formed Law Enforcement Communicable Disease Advisory Committee, which includes a task force.
“The role of that committee, is if we had a major disease such as measles or Ebola in the community and we needed to either quarantine or isolate people, that we would have a task force that is trained that would be able to assist public health,” Kasirye said.
The committee also works with the city’s Animal Services Department for rabies control, and local schools for immunizations. And in the event that there is any kind of outbreak in the schools, the committee will work with the Elk Grove Unified School District.
Kasirye spoke with the Citizen about her authority as the city health officer.
“There are certain powers that we have in situations (pertaining to public health) that we can order people to get treatment, order people to remain in isolation, in quarantine, and also there are other laws that we enforce such as with rabies control,” she said.
Kasirye said that she is gratified to have been appointed to her new role as the city health officer.
“We are very pleased with the outcome and we are going to continue to work with (the city), continue to communicate,” she said. “So, we’ll probably show up to (city) meetings, as well.
“I love working here, I love the diversity, (and) I’m very glad to be a part of it.”