OGDEN -- The Weber-Morgan Board of Health has appointed Brian Bennion as the new Executive Director and Health Officer of the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
Bennion, who currently serves as Associate Division Director of the Salt Lake County Health Department, replaces Gary House, who is retiring after 11 years.
"We conducted an extensive search for a new health officer that attracted a varied pool of highly qualified candidates," said Ogden City Councilmember Neil Garner, who also serves as chair of the WMHD Board of Health. "We are happy to select Brian, who has 31 years of working in public health. He brings a lot of expertise to the community and we look forward to working with him."
Bennion holds a bachelor of science in health education from the University of Utah and a Master of Public Health Administration from Brigham Young University. He is an active member of the Utah Public Health Association and the Utah Environmental Health Association and has served on the board of trustees of both organizations. In addition to his work at the Salt Lake County Health Department, his past employment includes the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Heart Association.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the Weber-Morgan Health Department. I am impressed with the health department staff and their accomplishments. The programs are well managed and the facilities are very nice," he said. "I look forward to working with the staff to efficiently and effectively meet the public health needs of the community."
The Weber-Morgan Health Department encompasses one of the most diverse populations in the state, with Ogden as its urban center along the Wasatch Front, and Morgan as its rural perimeter to the east. It is home to 247,000 residents and continues to grow rapidly each year. Along with that, WMHD has a variety of health indicators. The downtown Ogden area tends to have higher obesity, smoking and teen pregnancy rates, similar to other inner city areas across the nation. For three years running, Morgan County earned the honor of being named the healthiest county in Utah, by the Robert Wood Foundation, which studies the social and economic factors to determine the healthiest county in each of the 50 states.
Bennion said growth and related public health challenges such as air quality and emergency preparedness will remain top priorities along with a focus on customer service.
"When using our services, our residents should expect to be treated with kindness and respect," he said. "Residents should leave our facilities having received the services they came for and all their questions answered."
The board also thanked House for his service during which he took on the challenge of consolidating services that were strewn throughout both counties into two easily identifiable, centralized locations.
Ken Johnson, Associate Dean of Weber State University's Dumke College of Health Professions and WMHD Board Member, said House earned respect from health officials across the state and demonstrated the ability to maximize the delivery of public health services to the community.
"Gary has maintained the integrity of the office and has done some great things utilizing the resources he generated," Johnson said. "We are sorry to see him go and wish him well in his future endeavors."
In 2009, House oversaw the H1N1 mass vaccination campaign where nearly 50,000 Weber-Morgan residents were immunized against this deadly pandemic influenza strain. He also championed the need for greater community emergency preparedness as a result of national terrorist attacks and complex emerging infections.
This culminates 35 years of public health service for House, in Utah and California. He and his wife Anne will return to Northern California to be with family and assist in the operation of a family farm.