New Allen County health commissioner outlines goals
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - For almost 30 years, Thomas Gutwein, M.D., has worked in Northeast Indiana in emergency medicine, facing the health problems of the community. He recognizes a lot has changed in that time.
“Diseases have changed. The treatment process for these diseases have changed. So, the biggest thing that I have seen that’s changed in the 20 years is the treatment for a lot of diseases we didn’t have 20 years ago and we have better treatment today. Some of those treatments have been updated, so now we need to stay up on the latest and provide the best healthcare,” he explained.
After a busy two years for Matthew Sutter, M.D., the former Allen County Health Commissioner who helped see the county through the COVID-19 pandemic, Gutwein will get the chance to focus on other aspects of community health.
For Gutwein, he wants to help improve the overall quality of life for people in the county, tackling issues like obesity, and lowering the amount of lead that makes its way to kids.
He explained how kids are exposed to lead in this day and age, saying “Usually, there’s two ways the lead gets to the kids, either through old pipes that they’re drinking water from or dust particles from paint that have been on the walls of old dwellings that they’re living in. It’s important to find that first, recognize that’s a problem and treat that, because developmentally, that can cause problems down the road.”
Gutwein recognizes there are other health problems the county faces, such as sexually transmitted infections, that he wants to help curtail, but one of his big goals is to help with the opioid crisis and improving mental health.
“Opioid poisonings, those are real big in our county and those are something that we need to take seriously. That goes along with the whole mental health of the community, and I think we have a lot of resources in this community for mental health,” Gutwein explained. “I don’t know if we have them all working together as well as we can and I feel like it’s part of my job to make sure that the community works well together and that those resources are used appropriately.”
He says he’ll take input from everyone and work with the community to find the best solutions, saying “I like to listen to other people’s viewpoints and I want to hear other people’s viewpoints and I realize that everyone has a different lens they see the world through and everyone sits in a different chair when they’re making decisions.”
Gutwein currently serves as the emergency medical director at Parkview Regional Medical Center, and he will continue in that role while also serving as commissioner.
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