Kern County Public Health director Matt Constantine announces retirement

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Kern County Director of Public Health Services Matt Constantine confirmed with 17 News he will be retiring.

Constantine has been at the forefront of the county’s response to the coronavirus pandemic since it began nearly a year ago. He did not give a reason for why he would be retiring.

The Board of Supervisors are set to hold a closed door session Tuesday to discuss the appointment of a new Public Health director.

Kern Public Health spokesperson Michelle Corson said Constantine told the Board of Supervisors of his intent to retire in March 2021 back in 2019. Constantine submitted an email Thursday afternoon to staff about his intentions to retire.

Constantine has served as Public Health director since 2009 after serving as head of Department of Environmental Health in 2006.

Read the email Constantine sent to Public Health staff below:

Public Health Colleagues,

In 2019 I informed the Board of Supervisors of my intent to retire in early 2021.  Yesterday I informed the Board that I am retiring on March 26, 2021.

My 27-year career with the County has been one of the best experiences of my life.  Public Health has provided me with an opportunity to work hard; it has challenged me and pushed me to be creative and frugal and I have been rewarded with a lifetime of cherished memories and lifelong friends.

Although my notification to the Board of my pending retirement was made well before any of us knew of the presence of COVID or the pending challenges this pandemic would create, I have thought over the last 10 months that I may need to postpone my decision.  However, with the release of the vaccine in December and the ability for our community to resume normal functions within reach I believe the timing of my transition will not interfere with our COVID-fighting efforts.

I’m grateful that the Board of Supervisors has been supportive and encouraging to me and all of the employees at Public Health during our COVID response efforts.  They have pushed us to do more, to work harder than we thought possible.  They have challenged us to think creatively, to be transparent and to do all that is possible to protect our community. 

These past 10 months have been unprecedented and have challenged and stressed our community and healthcare system.  Public Health has restructured our entire Department so that we are completely dedicated to keeping our community safe from the threats this virus has presented. You have all been willing to take on additional and new duties and have been working so hard.  As is usual I’ve been impressed with your tenacity and dedication to your work and helping others in our community.

I’ve been honored to work beside each of you and I’m so proud of what we have accomplished.    

Kern County Public Health Department director Matt Constantine

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