Dr. Puthiery Va, a graduate of the University of New England, brings broad experience in public health, emergency response, clinical care, and epidemiology
AUGUSTA— The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Dr. Puthiery Va will be the next Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), starting August 28, 2023. Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew appointed Dr. Va following a national search, based on Dr. Va’s extensive range of experience in primary clinical care, epidemiology, and public health emergency response, having most recently led the successful COVID-19 response in the Navajo Nation. Dr. Va will be returning to Maine having received her medical degree from the University of New England.
“I am excited to welcome Dr. Va back to Maine to lead our CDC,” said Governor Janet Mills. “As the last four years have shown, a strong public health system is crucial to protecting and improving the lives, health, and livelihoods of Maine people. Dr. Va’s depth and breadth of experience position her well to assume the helm of the Maine CDC and strengthen our public health infrastructure.”
“Dr. Va has been a front-line leader – as well as a clinician and epidemiologist – during a global health emergency following a distinguished role as a disease investigator at the U.S. CDC,” said Commissioner Lambrew.“These experiences, alongside managing public health from the Bronx to the Navajo Nation after beginning her medical career here in Maine, gives Dr. Va a deep keel for navigating Maine’s public health challenges.”
“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Va into the role of director at Maine CDC,” said Maine CDC Acting Director Nancy Beardsley. “The last few years have shown that the work this agency does to protect and promote the health and wellbeing of Maine people is more important than ever and we’re excited to work with Dr. Va at the helm as we continue to move public health in Maine forward.”
"I’m honored to accept the position of director of the Maine CDC and eager to contribute to the well-being of the people of Maine,” said Dr. Va. “I look forward to further strengthening Maine’s public health infrastructure through equitable and community-based services that advance the key initiatives of Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew.”
Dr. Va is currently the Director of the Division of Public Health in Chinle, Arizona, serving the population of the Indian Health Service (IHS) Navajo Area Chinle Service Unit. There, she oversees both public health activities and clinical services that include population health, public health nursing, adolescent school health, diabetes, native medicine, health promotion and disease prevention, and clinical and community nutrition programs. Her accomplishments include developing and implementing mobile health clinic services and data science analytics for population health management, contributing significantly to improving health care access for communities.
“As Division of Public Health Director for the IHS Navajo Area, Dr. Puthiery Va has exhibited exceptional leadership and tireless dedication in her vital work with the Navajo community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said IHS Director Roselyn Tso. “By consistently going above and beyond to provide medical expertise, support, and resources, Dr. Va has been a source of unwavering hope and healing during these challenging times. She has shown exceptional dedication in her work to improve the lives of underserved populations, making her a valuable asset in her new role at the Maine CDC.”
“Dr. Va has consistently shown her dedication and commitment to the Navajo people of the communities we serve,” said Darlene Chee, Chief Executive Officer, Chinle Service Unit, IHS. “She has been focused on improving access to community-based preventive and clinical health care services, continually bringing positive change and health outcomes in her time here.”
Prior to joining the Indian Health Service, Dr. Va served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the U.S. CDC. She led a team examining the impact of dietary sodium intake on health, particularly its connection to chronic diseases. She also played a crucial role in various response teams, including the Zika Virus International Task Force and a mumps outbreak response team in Arkansas.
She received a medical degree from the University of New England, was Chief Medical Resident at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso. Her journey to the United States as a child, alongside her family as refugees from Cambodia, adds a valuable dimension to her commitment to public health and humanitarian work.