BGSU announces chief health officer, partnership with Wood County Health Department

Chief health officer will oversee BGSU plans to combat the spread of COVID-19

Bowling Green State University and the Wood County Health Department (WCHD) have signed a mutual aid agreement and announced an innovative public-public partnership to improve the public health of Wood County and northwest Ohio through health instruction, practice, research and workforce development.

As two public organizations that are committed to working through the COVID-19 global pandemic as well as promoting the overall health of the community, BGSU and WCHD will explore opportunities to:

  • Collaborate on public health projects, provide educational opportunities for BGSU students and additional assistance to Wood County Health Department employees to serve the needs of northwest Ohio;

  • Provide increased involvement of health department staff to serve as mentors, student advisors, guest lecturers at BGSU, and for BGSU students, faculty and staff to serve as technical resources and guest lecturers for WCHD;

  • Jointly develop grant applications to generate new and additional funding to support their outreach missions for the region;

  • Develop initiatives, including activities related to research opportunities, pandemic planning, grant funding, workforce development, community health assessments and program evaluation;

  • Collaborate with other Wood County partners in completing Ohio Department of Health requirements for the Community Health Assessment (CHA) and the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for Wood County;

  • Share resources in the future, such as shared-use space and supporting of joint-staff positions between WCHD and BGSU.

"This is another example of how BGSU is a national leader in partnerships, and it demonstrates BGSU's steadfast commitment to supporting our region and Ohio," BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers said. "Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our commitment to the health and safety of one another is stronger than ever. We have partnered with an organization who shares our mission to create public good and values the health of our University and the communities we serve."

BGSU Appoints Chief Health Officer

Former Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Batey, MPH, RN, has accepted the appointment as BGSU chief health officer. Batey will continue focusing on the public health of Wood County through this growing partnership. 

Prior to assuming the chief health officer position at BGSU, Batey served as health commissioner of the Wood County Health Department since 2014 and brings extensive clinical experience in infectious diseases and epidemiology. He also held several leadership positions with the department since June 2010, including CEO of the Wood County Community Health Center, director of nursing, and infectious disease, emergency preparedness coordinator and epidemiologist. Before joining WCHD, Batey was a registered nurse for Mercy St. Anne Hospital and Mercy Home Care. Batey holds a Master of Public Health degree from Northwest Ohio Consortium for Public Health (Bowling Green State University/University of Toledo), along with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Mercy College of Ohio.  

As chief health officer, Batey will oversee BGSU’s comprehensive plans to combat the spread of COVID-19 among its students, faculty and staff. This new position also elevates and integrates a holistic health portfolio, enhancing programming in population health from both community and academic perspectives.

"At the very core of all that we accomplish is also a commitment to public health. This is an opportunity for us to come together to not just overcome the COVID-19 global pandemic, but to support one another and build a brighter future for our communities," Rogers said. "Our new chief health officer position and partnership with WCHD will ensure our University preserves and promotes the public health and its role in creating public good."

To best support the communities BGSU and WCHD serve, both organizations are committed to navigating the transition as Batey’s leadership in public health is needed to assist the health department’s local response to COVID-19. Batey’s cabinet-level appointment as chief health officer at BGSU begins July 27.