ST. JOSEPH — Berrien County epidemiologist Guy Miller is set to become the county’s acting health officer after commissioners approved his appointment Thursday.

The move is pending final approval from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Administrator Brian Dissette said Miller, who grew up in St. Joseph, has been working for the county since 2015 and has a master’s degree in public health. His appointment is for up to six months.

“This is something that we’re required to have in place. The state of Michigan has given tentative approval that they would recognize him as the acting health officer,” Dissette said during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting. There was no discussion of Miller’s appointment during the regular meeting later that morning, when it was approved as part of the consent agenda.

He said commissioners need to approve Miller for the role before the state can give its official approval.

“My intent is to have Guy here, talking with you all at your next meeting,” he said. “I think that you’ll find him to be someone that’s easy to work with. I think that you’ll find him to be someone who very much loves this community and wants to do good work here.”

Dissette said he’s been looking for a new acting health officer since the previous one, Courtney Davis, announced she was stepping down. Her last day was Wednesday.

Davis served as the acting health officer after former Health Officer Nicki Britten stepped down July 9 to work for Spectrum Health Lakeland as the director of population health.

Dissette said the county is finally getting applicants for positions that are open at the health department, including for deputy health officer, finance manager and health officer.

He said the county will continue to seek applicants for the health officer role while Miller “test drives” being the acting health officer. He said he’s encouraging Miller to find someone to work as the county’s epidemiologist on a temporary basis.

Dissette said he wants Miller to be able to go back to being the county’s epidemiologist if down the road, he decides he doesn’t want to be the acting health officer.

Miller, 31, told The Herald-Palladium in April 2020 that when there’s not a global pandemic, he’s involved with monitoring food-borne outbreaks and infectious diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis, lyme disease and West Nile virus.

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