ROCK FALLS – After many years under the steady guidance of Beth Fiorini, the Whiteside County Health Department will have a new face at the helm in late April.
Philip Jass, administrator for the Grundy County Health Department in Morris, will take the baton from the retiring Fiorini, who plans to stay on until late July to help with the transition and to make sure the federally funded clinic gets its main grant.
Jass, who couldn’t be reached Monday, is on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Public Health Administration and also its Executive Council.
He knows Fiorini well from that role, and pursued the opportunity when he heard she was retiring – and he really stood out, said Howard Melchi, president of the Whiteside County Board of Health.
“We had lots of good candidates, but he rose to the top quickly. The panel considered him to be the best fit,” Melchi said, citing Jass’ extensive background in programs similar to what is offered here.
“He has previous experience working with community health clinics, and in Grundy County he started some behavioral health programs, too. Plus, he’s familiar with Whiteside County, knowing Beth and the programs here. He’s excited to be coming here.”
In addition, “he’s a very personable guy. He’s got long-term goals of staying here and being involved in the community,” Melchi said.
Jass has been with Grundy County, overseeing a staff of 35, since August 2013. He oversaw the operations of the health department in five areas: nursing, mental health, environmental health, senior programs and emergency preparedness.
Morris is a long way from his hometown of Rockford, though, where his mom and other family members live, and Whiteside County will be a much shorter drive.
Before Grundy County, Jass worked for more than 18 years at Aunt Martha’s Youth Services Center Inc. in Joliet, overseeing programs for residents, handling property and safety-related matters and serving as business manager for four health centers.
Melchi said he is confident Jass can bring all that experience and build on the success Fiorini has established.
“We’ve been fortunate with Beth in that we’re known in the state for programs we do, and hopefully he will continue to expand things in the future.”