Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Damian Chase-Begay, Director and Health Officer at Missoula Public Health, announced on Wednesday that he will be stepping down from his position after nearly three years at the helm of the department.

KGVO News spoke to Chase-Begay on Thursday about his accomplishments since becoming the director in 2021, replacing the long-time Director Ellen Leahy.

Damian Chase-Begay Stepping Down after Three Years at Missoula Public Health

“My time here has really focused on beefing up our technology and our ability to both generate and use the best quality data to make the decisions that we need to make,” began Chase-Begay. “You know, we all saw during COVID that sometimes it really feels like we're operating in the dark. The more data we can have, the more information we can have that is timely and accurate, the better the decisions we're going to be able to make in real-time.”

Chase-Begay spoke of his other major accomplishments as the Director of Public Health.

Chase-Begay Implemented New Programs and Health Positions

“We've implemented new software systems, and we brought on new positions,” he said. “We now have a full-time epidemiologist who just looks after our data and helps us do better with data, and also to do better with how we report data back to our community. And I think that transparency and that bidirectional communication, hearing from the community, what they think about the services that we're doing is really important, and we have more capacity to do that now, and I'm really proud of that.”

Chase-Begay would not be specific but said his new position will keep him here in his hometown of Missoula.

Chase-Begay said his New Opportunity will Keep him in Missoula

“I am not leaving because I'm done with public health or with Missoula Public Health,” he said. “I just have a really prestigious and exciting opportunity that I can't pass up. I spoke with my family before I made the decision. I've been mulling it over and it's just something that I can't pass up. But what I can say is that for me, one of the most exciting things about this opportunity is that I will still be here in Missoula. I don't have to leave. I get to stay here with my family. I'm from Missoula, so being here is a big part of the decision to take this new job.”

The search for a new Director and Health Officer at Missoula Public Health will begin soon.

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