September 17, 2021


There's nothing like our health

‘Don’t need to look any further’: Danbury has its permanent health head

2 min read

DANBURY — The city health department has been without a full-time director since last year but has made a deal with the state that would allow the acting position-holder to assume the role after she checks off one more requirement for the job.

Kara Prunty was working as the associate director of community health when the director, Lisa Morrissey, suddenly left the department last April to take on another position.

That put Prunty in charge as the acting director of health and human services.

Mayor Joe Cavo said Prunty was the “natural person” to step in and that she’s been doing a “fabulous job” for the city and its citizens.

She is on track to hold the title permanently, just after she earns another degree.

“I’m hoping that it happens,” Prunty said, but there’s “a process that we have to go through.”

Per Connecticut statutes, health directors must be licensed physicians holding a degree in public health — a degree Prunty lacks but is working to complete. She already has a master’s in public administration.

Connecticut typically requires health directors to be replaced within 60 days.

In the hopes that Prunty will become the full-time director, Danbury arranged with the state to allow Prunty to continue serving as the acting director while she finishes her schooling.

Under the agreement, Cavo said Prunty has until September 2021 to achieve her degree, but she anticipates it’ll be completed by August.

“We don’t want to look any further. We don’t need to look any further,” Cavo said. “We have the person here who we believe will be the next full-time public health director in the city of Danbury.”

Morrissey — who headed the department for about three years — left her position in Danbury for a similar one in Bridgeport. She worked at the Bridgeport Department of Health for close to nine months before moving to her current position at the New Milford health department.

Morrisey told the News-Times she had left Bridgeport in January after getting what she called a COVID-19 wake-up call that made her to realize she needed to be closer to home.

When the time comes, Cavo will have to officially appoint Prunty to the role and get approval from the City Council. He said he’s “confident” the council will confirm her appointment.

In fact, one council member is already begging for her to get the full time job.

Frank Salvatore, Jr. and other council members have praised Prunty and the health department’s work throughout the pandemic and vaccine rollout.

“Mr. Mayor, when does she [Prunty] get rid of the acting title?” Salvatore asked at a recent City Council meeting. “Because anybody who runs a department like that — as well — shouldn’t be acting, should be the director.”

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