40 Under 40 Class of 2019Naples, Florida
Public Information Officer and Assistant to the AdministratorFlorida Department of Health, Collier County
BOLD SOLUTION: Kristine initiated the “Shoo the Flu Challenge” to increase the rates of employees receiving the vaccination. Staff said that leaving their workspaces, registering, and waiting to receive a vaccine interrupted their workday and client care. Kristine worked with her immunizations division to create a “Flu Cart,” a mobile cart that brings the vaccine and registration to an employee’s workspace or desk. During the 2013-14 flu season, the employee vaccination rate was 36 percent. After the “Shoo the Flu Challenge” was implemented, the rate reached 75 percent in 2015-16, and the Immokalee site obtained a 100 percent overall vaccination rate.
Five Questions for Kristine
1. Who or what inspired you to enter the field of public health?
From a young age, was taught to treat people right, because you never know when you will be the one in need. Therefore, I am more than a public health professional — it is my duty to take care of those in need. Having the role of public information officer in the field of public health has given me a platform to raise awareness and educate my community.
2. What would success in public health look like to you?
Success in public health would be a world where one’s health status is not a reflection of his or her socioeconomic status, race, gender, or zip code. Good health is a human right.
3. What’s a story or experience that keeps you going, even when you’re feeling challenged?
When I feel challenged, I think of the time when a young woman and her mother came into my office asking for help. The young woman was a victim of human trafficking and was trafficked from Florida and then across the country. She found the strength and courage to leave her traffickers and returned home. In her I saw pain, suffering, but I also saw hope. She drives me each and every day to do the work that I do and ensure that our community is safe. Trafficking is a crime and it is modern day slavery. My chance encounter with that young woman has given me the determination to help stop trafficking. It was that day I truly found my passion for public health.
4. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
5. What are the greatest challenges you face in your public health work or area of focus?
Compassionate, driven, aware