WENATCHEE — Dr. Malcom Butler became the health officer of the Chelan-Douglas Health District in April and found himself in a lead role for two communities.
Butler inherited the volunteer position in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and while he may have been aware of the crisis when he took the job, he most likely did not expect the workload that landed in his lap. Butler has been pivotal in submitting applications to reopen Chelan and Douglas counties’ economies, creating hybrid-learning models to help reopen schools and working with epidemiologists to conduct mass testing and contact tracing.
The health officer for both counties is an important role that requires a medical professional to respond and help handle a variety of health concerns such as salmonella outbreaks, food safety and also the response to a pandemic. The health officer is appointed by the board of health and works alongside the health district.
It is a position that most people probably didn't know existed until this year.
Butler has been responding to questions about COVID-19 from a variety of news organizations for months. He has also participated in a bilingual video series put on by Our Valley Our Future to inform people in the Hispanic community about the pandemic. He’s also started a weekly video series through the health district to help keep people up-to-date on COVID-19.
A September study by a team of epidemiologists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Dr. Butler was one of the most trusted sources of information in the community. It also found a late June opinion column by Butler led to an increase in mask wearing in the community.
In addition to his volunteer work for the health district, Butler has been the chief medical officer at Columbia Valley Community Health since 1995, according to the medical center’s website. He has practiced medicine in Wenatchee since 1993.