The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Retiring health director plans to stay active


October 12, 2017

Diana Zimmerman

Sue Cameron retired on Friday. She spent 42 years working in public health, the final five as the director of Wahkiakum Health and Human Services.

Wahkiakum Health and Human Services Director Sue Cameron retired last Friday after working in public health for 42 years.

Cameron got her start at Portland State University with a class in environmental philosophy.

"I was fascinated," she said. She was even more enthralled when she took a class in environmental health.

"We learned about carbon emissions and the greenhouse and all that," Cameron said, "and that was 1975. I thought, 'I could do something here.'"

After getting her degree, she inspected restaurants and septic systems and the like for a long time.

Eventually she became the director of the department in Tillamook.

"From there, I rather circuitously ended up here," Cameron said. "Environmental health is very broad. You look at the land and the air, but you also look at the individual, the population based health. How do we keep people from getting sick, either from their own mistakes or the environment. It gives you a really good perspective of public health and what it means, but it's not health care, it's taking care of the population base."

She's proud of some of the things she and her staff have been able to get done during her tenure, and is quick to give the credit to her staff.

"I think we did some incredible stuff," she said. "We bought a piece of property. We still have the vision for housing and a joint facility for health and mental health and primary care with the clinic. We've been able to set up a mobile crisis team. We've been able to get a car seat program. We've got a community health program. We've served more people. Everything has been another little step. The staff has lots of ideas, that's what makes it happen. The credit belongs to them."

Cameron won't be with health and human services anymore, but she will still be active in the community she joined not so long ago.

"I've been here for five years," she said. "It's not long enough. I'm staying. I love being here."

She was a county commissioner for four years while living in Tillamook. She is currently a council member for the Town of Cathlamet.

"I'm not done at all," Cameron said, "but it's okay. I can focus more. I want to focus on the budget, the long term vision of the town, on the park, and where we are going."

She's also looking forward to having more time for her own hobbies, visiting grandchildren in Tillamook, traveling, and some research.

She recently learned that she has ties to the community she so recently called her own. Her great grandfather's brothers settled the Grays River valley.

"I had no idea!" she exclaimed. "That's my new hobby."


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