For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 26, 2020

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the City of Atlantic City recently welcomed the addition of a health director and full-time health officer to the City’s Department of Health & Human Services to help the City create a healthy and safe community for residents, workers, and visitors. 

Wilson J. Washington, Jr., Ph.D., was appointed health director and is working to develop and implement public health policy for Atlantic City. Dr. Washington most recently served as a senior public health advisor for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he managed the planning and administration of behavioral health grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts with substance abuse treatment organizations. For nearly 30 years, he has worked on private and public health initiatives, including in roles such as CEO and vice president. He also served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Medical Services Corps at such posts as the Naval Hospital Pensacola, Naval Air Station in Meridian, MS, and Naval Medical Research Center in Bethesda, MD. 

Dr. Washington earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Mississippi, Oxford, his Master of Science degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and his Doctorate from Walden University in Minneapolis. 

Kifle Mihrete, Ph.D., MPH, was appointed as full-time health officer and is working to lead health inspections and investigations in the city. Dr. Mihrete most recently served the City of Atlantic City as its registered environmental health specialist and its part-time health officer. He earned his Master of Science degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and his Master of Public Health degree and Doctorate from Walden University. 

“We look forward to Dr. Washington and Dr. Mihrete contributing their skills and experience to Atlantic City where the public health challenges are so great,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “In order for the city to fully and equitably recover from the COVID-19 public health emergency and economic recession, it must also address longstanding health challenges such as infant mortality, obesity, and substance abuse. I believe both gentlemen are passionate about public health and understand what successful health initiatives can do to improve a community.” 

“The expansion of our public health team makes it an especially great day here in the City of Atlantic City,” said Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small Sr. “Dr. Washington and Dr. Mihrete are two talented and committed individuals who are well-versed in the health challenges that diverse communities face. The City is truly blessed to have them working alongside us as we continue to get through this COVID-19 pandemic together.” 

“I’m here to help the community and collaboratively work with all the great, talented people who are already tackling health issues,” said Dr. Washington. “I will strive to create a best-in-class solution for Atlantic City that embraces the use of technology and community partnerships. The city is moving in the right direction with its health department and I’m excited to shape it into a valuable resource for residents.” 

“I care deeply about the Atlantic City community and I see first-hand how individual health challenges can have a wider impact on families and neighborhoods,” said Dr. Mihrete. “I look forward to strengthening the City’s public health team and developing innovative activities to help address health issues.” 

Public health affects almost all aspects of a community and touches on primary care, disease control and prevention, immunizations, food borne illness, environmental health, substance abuse, and mental health, among other areas. The City’s Department of Health & Human Services plans to conduct a community health needs assessment in the near-term to determine where and how to focus resources. It also intends to address food insecurity and access to healthy foods and support safe and healthy behavior and initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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