After a decade and a half of dedicated service, Guilford County Health Director Merle Green is calling it quits and riding off into the sunset.   Well, actually, that’s what cowboys do when they retire, but Green will be doing whatever retired health directors do when they wrap up their long county careers.

Green, who’s highly respected within Guilford County government and has run a scandal-free department, is making her leap out of county government on Leap Day 2020 – Feb. 29. For reasons that have to do with county retirement packages, it’s often more beneficial for county employees to retire at the end of February each year than at any other time – so many county employees often end their careers at that time.

Green became director of the department in mid-2005 after a national search. At that time, Green was the county’s assistant health director.

Since 2005, the department has undergone great change. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners did away with the Guilford County Board of Health and merged the Health Department into the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. For one year, the county had a high-paid Health and Human Services director who oversaw Green – as well as the Social Services director –however that was quickly seen as an unnecessary position and was done away with.

In her time running the department, Green has overseen the introduction of many programs geared to increase public health and she has put quite an emphasis on preventative practices and on providing more health to the needy in the county.

Green, who is one of the few female African-American department heads in Guilford County government, took the place of a former health director who fell out of favor with the Board of Health after he was arrested for drunk driving just eight hours before he started in that position.