Smith County Commissioners Court appoints new health authority

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 11:11 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 11:32 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Dr. Valerie B. Smith was appointed by the Smith County Commissioners Court on Tuesday to be the new Smith County Local Health Authority.

She was sworn in by County Judge Neal Franklin and is replacing Dr. Paul McGaha after his retirement.

Dr. Smith is assistant professor of pediatrics with the University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and completed her pediatric residency at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. She received her master of public health from the University of Texas Science Center School of Community and Rural Health. For almost 20 years, Dr. Smith served the children of East Texas as a pediatrician at St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation.

Established during the 79th Legislative Session, Health Authorities are physicians appointed to administer state and local laws relating to public health within an appointing body’s jurisdiction, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Their duties include establishing, maintaining and enforcing jurisdictional quarantine orders; aiding local health boards or departments in quarantine inspections, disease prevention and suppression efforts; and reporting the presence of contagious or infectious diseases to local and state authorities, among other things.

Dr. Smith serves multiple leadership roles with the Texas Pediatric Society, of which she serves as secretary/treasurer and co-chairs its executive legislative committee; Texas Medical Association, for which she serves as the chairwoman of its Council of Science and Public Health; and the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she serves as its district facilitator for the Community to Access to Child Health Program and on serves on its Committee on Federal Government Affairs. She also serves on the board of the East Texas Food Bank, Northeast Texas Public Health District (NET Health) and Texans Care for Children.

She was recommended to the Commissioners Court by the NET Health Board of Directors.