As a U.S. Army obstetrician and gynecologist at Fort Sill, Okla., Dr. Scott Ellis’ training went well beyond women’s health care and delivering babies.
He was trained in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, and he was prepared to react to medical disasters.
Although Ellis said he doesn’t anticipate a biological war to break out in Moffat County, it’s that background he hopes will guide him in his new role as Moffat County medical officer, a position that provides medical consultation and emergency response advice to county officials.
“It’s an unfortunate fact of the matter that we live in a different world than a decade ago,” Ellis said. “And, unfortunately, it does pay to be somewhat schooled and up to date to be ready when something like that occurs.”
During its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission, which also serves as the Moffat County Board of Health, approved Ellis’ appointment to the unpaid position for one year.
“I guess I was eager to give them a hand,” Ellis said about volunteering his time for the position. “I’ve been here about two years now, and I’ve fallen in love with Moffat County, and I’ll do anything I can to help.”
Ellis will serve as an ex officio, or nonvoting, member of the Board of Health.
In case of a regional medical emergency, such as an epidemic or bio-terrorism event, Ellis will serve as a consultant and expert in developing an emergency response plan.
Commissioner Audrey Danner said Ellis is qualified and eager to provide the service.
“If there’s a plane crash, water flooding or some incident that involved a compromising of the water supply, it would require a response,” Danner said. “Dr. Ellis has the background and the desire to do it. He has an MBA and has been in leadership positions in the military. This is what he does.”
Dr. Thomas Told filled the same position, formerly known as county health officer, since the mid-1970s.
Told, now retired, spends much of his time living and working out of town, Danner said.
Danner said having a medical officer who practices in the community would be advantageous.
Ellis is currently an OB/GYN at The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic.
“He has kindly offered his services,” Danner said. “And he’ll spend time getting to understand our public health system.”
Ellis’ duties won’t be limited to major disasters.
If the H1N1 flu reappears next fall with dangerous national trends, management of the epidemic also will require the input of the medical officer, Boardof Health and Moffat County Emergency Services.
“You have to treat that almost as a disaster,” Ellis said about flu outbreaks. “It’s just a matter of being prepared and watching the trends and what’s going on around the world and using best clinical judgment.
“Hopefully, we’d be able to predict what would happen.”
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.