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Dr. Nash to retire Friday

Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash, who has helped to lead mitigation and vaccination efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is planning to retire this week.

In a Monday, Feb. 15, interview, Nash said he will be retiring from the health district director position this Friday, Feb. 19.

In discussing the reason behind his departure, Nash said he had been communicating his plans of retirement with the health department’s central office in Richmond since the beginning of December, 2020.

H. Robert Nash

“I’ve had a couple of little micro-health issues here and there, but all in all, the whole year has pretty much taken a toll,” Nash said. “I’m going to be 70 in June, and I’m pretty much worn out.”

Nash said he took his job with the health department three and a half years ago after retiring from an extensive career with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs VA. Earlier in his career, he also served for 22 years as Chief of Pathology at Centra Southside Community Hospital.

Nash said the health district director position will be advertised soon, and he has recommended other doctors for the position.

In the meantime, Virginia Department of Health Community Health Services Medical Director Sulola Adekoya, M.D., will serve as interim director of the Piedmont Health District.

Adekoya, according to Nash, has more than 30 years of experience in the field of public health as well as obstetrics and gynecology.

Nash offered some parting thoughts Monday as he prepared to depart from his role.

“It’s a little bit awkward to retire right now, but I think we’ve got all of the structures and mechanisms set up for vaccination,” he said.  “We’ve done a tremendous job educating and monitoring the population, communicating all of the recommended mitigation measures, which I’d say 99% of the population have really taken this to their own. They’ve really owned all the recommendations, they followed faithfully, and I think that’s why we’ve been as blessed as we have been in terms of avoiding disasters and horrible outbreaks in our district. We’ve had our share of outbreaks from congregate living facilities, but nothing like Richmond or New York or Los Angeles.

“I think our people are intelligent, they ask good questions, they want to know the real, solid recommendations, what works, what doesn’t, and I think the community as a whole is going to be a whole lot stronger after all of this is over, and we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “Everything is set up with the vaccinations, everybody’s doing their part. All kinds of community organizations are pulling together, working together. It makes you feel good.”