Talk about a baptism by fire.

Guilford County has just named a brand new interim health director who’ll start work Monday morning with the threat of a global pandemic heading toward the county.

Dr. Iulia Vann, MD, will take the place of longtime Guilford County Health Director Merle Green, who retired on Friday, Feb. 28. Vann was sworn in on Friday as the interim health director at a 4 p.m. ceremony at the Guilford County Courthouse in downtown Greensboro.

Before taking the job with Guilford County in early 2019, Vann worked for the Orange County Department of Public Health, where she helped form partnerships that that department established with the UNC School of Medicine, School of Pharmacy, and School of Public Health.

County residents should be confident in her abilities at this critical time. As assistant director, she was given a great deal of responsibility and she has also often been the main presenter to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners in the past year and has displayed a great deal of knowledge about the workings of the department and the issues under discussion.

Vann is the first Guilford County health director in a decade and a half who has a medical degree and she has been published in scientific journals such as the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Van, who is fluent in Romanian and Spanish, received her medical degree from the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania and earned her Master’s in Public Health Analysis and Management from East Carolina University.

She has been very open and responsive to the media over the past year.

Vann said this week that the department is keeping a close watch on the coronavirus threat and said there are regular and frequent information sessions being held between the health department and state and federal disease control agencies.

She also said that the effect of the virus is already being felt by the Guilford County health department. For instance, recently, she said, the department ordered a shipment of protective face masks that would normally take a couple of days to get, but instead it took weeks for them to arrive.

Vann said Guilford County is in a fortunate situation right now compared to some areas since there have been no cases of the virus in the state and none in the surrounding states.

When Vann was hired one year ago to be assistant director, Green said of Vann, “Her clinical and case-management proficiencies will be key to optimizing the health status of public health patients and the Guilford community in general.”