KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City, Mo., Department of Health has named Dr. Marvia Jones as its new director. Dr. Jones currently oversees violence prevention and community education around COVID-19 mitigation efforts for the city and will replace Rex Archer, who retired in August after 23 years.
Dr. Jones has worked in the field of public health for 15 years and focuses on finding solutions to community violence. Prior to working in Kansas City, she worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she evaluated the effectiveness of prevention tools and provided health practice recommendations.
She believes that public health and violence prevention go hand in hand. She wants to take a holistic approach to the well-being of Kansas citizens, and she said that starts with focusing on mental health and looking at the root causes of violence.
Dr Jones says the causes of violence are often environmental – what people learn or what people grow up seeing. But much of it is also deeply rooted in history.
“I’m happy to bring insights, knowledge and an awareness of the long history of things that have impacted health not just in our community, but in communities across the country,” Jones said. .
Jones is the first African-American woman from Kansas City to take on this role in the health department. Local organizations fighting for safer neighborhoods say they feel in good hands.
“People will understand quickly if you can relate to what they are going through. They will understand quickly by your behavior, by the way you treat them, by what you say to them,” said Randall Hundley, who sits on the board of directors. from the Healing Pathway Victim Service Agency “You don’t have to be taught from the start. You know it exists, you know how it happens, you’ve been through it, you’ve seen it, you’ve got it.” been educated.”
Hundley is a former deputy chief of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. He wants to see officers and the health department work together to resolve the violence. Dr. Jones sees the value in this.
“Around that type of building, that level of stuff in the environment increases the risk of violence — I think the data is really useful to us because it can drive a lot of the programming,” Jones said.
Jones also believes that better communication with the public is key to finding effective solutions.
“No jargon, no complex language,” Jones said. “Sometimes we can be so focused on spreading information and telling people what we recommend that we don’t necessarily hear what comes back to us. So I really want to focus on that.
Annette Lantz-Simmons, who works at the Center for Conflict Resolution, said better communication leads to better education. She said people need to learn how to deal with conflict.
“It’s the same with violence — what you’re exposed to sometimes, life choices or what you’re molded into, fuels what you do with conflict,” Lantz-Simmons said.
Dr. Jones’ top priority in his first week on the job will be boosting employee morale. She said she would focus on finding solutions for worker retention as well as raising wages. She will take up her new duties on February 14.