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Community gathering of thanks for Dr. Frank James

The Islands' Sounder - 5/10/2024

Submitted by San Juan County

A community gathering of thanks for former San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James will be held Wednesday May 22. All San Juan County residents are invited to join San Juan County at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art to thank Dr. James for his 31 years of service to the community.

Doors will open at 1:40 p.m. and the program will begin at 2 p.m. with an open house to follow until 4 p.m. San Juan County would like to thank San Juan Islands Museum of Art and the Rotary Club for sponsoring this event for the community.

Dr. James has led San Juan County through many public health changes and challenges over the years. Some of the highlights for Health & Community Services under the leadership of Dr. James as the Health Officer include:

San Juan County has ranked #1 or #2 in the state for Health Outcomes since 2011, when county and statewide health outcomes were first measured by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Smoking in public buildings was the norm when Dr. James started as Health Officer in 1992. In 2005, Dr. James, former HCS Director John Manning, and former Public Health Nurse Martha Sharon drafted an ordinance prohibiting smoking on property owned by the County, expanding the 2005 state law.

In 2009, Dr. James prepared islanders for the novel H1N1 virus (also known as swine flu) and worked with local health care providers and pharmacists to ensure vaccines and medication were available in the community early in the pandemic.

In 2014, Dr. James led the county in the response to a measles outbreak after an infected county resident returned from overseas travel. Dr. James and the Health & Community Services staff worked closely with the community to ensure a swift response to limit the spread of this highly infectious illness.

One of the most notable recent public health highlights includes Dr. James earning due praise for his work for the residents of San Juan County during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. San Juan County fared eight times better than the next best county in Washington. Across the nation, San Juan County remains an example of what to do during a global pandemic, as the county had the lowest COVID case rate in the nation for the first two years of the pandemic. This is in no small part due to Dr. James's leadership, collaboration with the community and commitment to protecting islanders.

If you are not able to make this gathering but would like your message of thanks to be included, reach out to Kyra Jahanfar at

San Juan County Council appointed Dr. Herbie Duber as the County's new acting Health Officer. Dr. Duber is the Washington State Department of Health Regional Medical Officer for Northwest Washington. In this role, he supports the development of healthcare policy and programs across the state and serves as a key liaison between local public health and the Department of Health.