New era for WECHU as COVID-19 slows down and new CEO starts

It’s a new era for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit as the COVID-19 pandemic improves and a new CEO begins her role.

Friday was the first day for Nicole Dupuis, who acknowledges she has big shoes to fill.

“Yeah, it’s a little scary, but again I’ve been part of the organization for almost eight years,” Dupuis tells CTV News. “I’ve worked closely with our team.”

Dupuis, who was previously the WECHU director of health promotion, says her goal is to continue the pandemic management work of her predecessor Theresa Marentette, and as COVID-19 slows down, shift resources to other services.

“All of our services were altered during the pandemic towards COVID, some completely stopped, while others we maintained at a minimal level,” says Dupuis.

Work on the Opioid crisis and mental health are some key areas the health unit wants to focus on more aggressively.

“Mental health certainly is an area where we maintained a little bit of work through our partnerships with mental health organizations in the community, but that’s something I know we have a vision of really picking up,” says Dupuis.

Dupuis says some of the services the public might not even be aware existed and they are looking forward to offering them once again.

“Other services would be our home visiting programs for vulnerable families and children. Our breastfeeding programs, food security and health eating,” she adds.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says Dupuis will help drive the shift towards recovery.

“We are getting almost to the end of the pandemic cycle hopefully, so I see her focusing more on the recovery piece, that how we will recover as an organization,” says Ahmed.

Ahmed says there is plenty of behind-the-scenes work to do for a smooth transition.

“We’ve got lots of public health work that needs to happen,” says Ahmed. “We have many staffing, we have many supports that we need to move forward.”

Marentette, who has worked with Dupuis since 2014, did leave her with some words of wisdom on her last day on Wednesday.

“My advice is to take one day at a time and she knows that I will always support her,” says Marentette.