New health commissioner sets sights on accreditation

Propes is settling into his new position as health commissioner for Miami County Public Health following hiring this summer and his first day on the job Aug. 4.

He takes the position vacated earlier this year by Chris Cook, who now is CEO of Rocking Horse Community Health Center in Clark County.

A Cincinnati native and Xenia resident, Propes is no stranger to public service.

He joined the Army after graduating from Colerain High School, serving just less than three years, before enlisting in the Ohio National Guard. He served in Germany for a time during the first Gulf War.

While in the guard, Propes studied at Wright State University. He received a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and a master’s in public administration.

His first job was a short stint in a P&G lab.

“I found out quickly I didn’t want to work in a lab where I was surrounded by the same four walls all day,” he said.

A job search led him to a health inspector/sanitarian position in Logan County, followed by a similar position in Clark County. A job in public health in Hamilton County gave him the opportunity to return to his home area before serving as Sharonville director of environmental health and then health commissioner.

The job in Miami County offered a bigger department with more responsibility and work a bit closer to his home.

“The people here are very good. We definitely have a very knowledgeable, dedicated staff,” Propes said.

The department’s largest challenge will be completing the state-required accreditation process, an effort already under way, he said.

With accreditation, all aspects of the health department will be explored.

“A lot of the things (required), the department has been doing forever and will continue. Now, we are organizing a little better and getting into the order required for accreditation,” Propes said. The accreditation would be through the Public Health Accreditation Board, a national organization.

During his initial days on the job he has been spending time with staff members, getting to know them and their task better. He plans next to get out in the community to meet elected officials and other community partners.

“Getting out in the community makes you get a good feel for community, what their needs are and being able to respond to those needs,” he said.

Propes has personal experience in local government with his election to the Xenia City Council and serving as its president for a time. He and his wife, Christine, have three daughters: Hannah, 15; Gabby, 12; and Izzy, 9.

Family, he said, “keeps me very busy, but very happy.”

For more information on Miami County Public Health, visit www.miamicountyhealth.net.

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