County health officer Dr. Chris Spitters announces his departure next year

Dr. Chris Spitters presiding over a county COVID-19 weekly briefing via Zoom.

After 24 years with the Snohomish Health District, Dr. Chris Spitters has announced that he will step down next year. He has served as the county’s chief health officer since March 2020.

“There is no work-related reason for my choice to resign from the health officer position, and I am not leaving for another role,” Spitters said in a health department-issued presss release. “Instead, long-deferred commitments to my wife and family now must take precedence over vocation. They have waited patiently for me on the sidelines of my life for so long.”

Spitters will leave the agency on June 30, 2022.

While Spitters was appointed as health officer in March 2020, his career at the health district dates to 1994, when he was hired as the deputy health officer. He also served as the tuberculosis control officer and communicable disease director during that initial tenure. Spitters left briefly in 1999 for positions with the Washington State Department of Health before returning to the county health district in a tuberculosis consulting position since 2001. He also served as the medical director for Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Tuberculosis Clinic from 2003 until February 2020.

“Dr. Spitters has been absolutely critical to this County’s response, recovery and resiliency,” said Stephanie Wright, board chair and county councilmember. “He has served as the county’s lead public health official with grace, and we will be forever grateful for his years here.”

“Dr. Chris Spitters is one of the best public health professionals working today. He is compassionate, knowledgeable, pragmatic, humble, and above all committed to the health and safety of our community,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “Chris has been an indispensable part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are thousands of people alive today because of his tireless work and because our response was guided by his expertise and common-sense approach. I will miss his partnership and leadership. We all wish him well and hope that his next chapter affords a bit more time for his family and friends.”

The news release noted that Spitters has also worked for eight other local health jurisdictions across the state as a medical consultant or health officer. His health officer experience includes Asotin County Health District, Island County Public Health, Klickitat County Health Department and Yakima Health District.

“In my 30 years in health care, I have never found a colleague that I have enjoyed working with more. We have been fortunate to have someone with both a passion for public health and a long career in medicine,” said Shawn Frederick, administrative officer for the Health District.

The health district said it will begin a recruitment process to hire the next health officer, with a goal of having that person start before Spitters’ departure next summer.


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