Dr. Sherlita Amler is laser-focused on your health, but if she’s doing her job well, you’ll never know it.
Amler has served as commissioner of Westchester County’s Department of Health since 2011, following stints at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. (She’s spent a total of 37 years in public service.) She not only mobilizes regional responses to a variety of public-health threats—everything from Hurricane Sandy to the Ebola scare—but she also oversees 300 employees and $160 million, working to promote the well-being of Westchester’s one million residents, workers, and visitors.
“Most people have no idea that we’re out there, keeping them healthy,” she says. “We’re kind of like the fire department: You only hear about us when something goes wrong.”
Amler’s latest target wasn’t your standard outbreak. Last year, she launched a countywide initiative to combat the rise of opiate addiction—a problem that, she says, “transcends all socioeconomic barriers”—by distributing the lifesaving anti-overdose drug Narcan and providing training to both first responders and the general public on how to administer Narcan.
When asked what public-health issue she might tackle next, Amler can only guess. “We never know what the next big problem is going to be,” she says. “Whatever it is, we’re ready to deal with it.”