Warren’s health boss retires
Deputy commissioner put it off amid COVID but left post this week
WARREN — After 20 years working with city’s health district, Robert “Bob” Pinti has called it quits.
Pinti, 65, retired as the city’s deputy health commissioner earlier this week, as the state’s COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The Ohio Department of Health just this week ordered that all outdoor amphitheater events should not take place. That change came less than 50 hours before River Rock at the Amp was scheduled to have its first concert of the summer at the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
Pinti stayed to help his successor, John May — formerly the planning and zoning coordinator in the city’s building department — interpret and implement the state’s order.
“No one should have to walk into a job with something like this,” Pinti said. “So I figured I would stay to help in any way I could.”
May shadowed Pinti for about a month, learning his new duties as the deputy health commissioner.
Pinti told city officials in October that he intended to step down. In fact, Pinti originally planned to leave during the early weeks of March, shortly after the city was expected to receive a tour needed to receive its national accreditation.
“I’m proud to say we earned the national accreditation,” Pinti said. “Ohio is the only state in the country to require all its city health departments to earn the accreditation.
“Preparing for it was very laborious,” he said. “I’m proud of the work done by the department.”
CHANGE OF PLAN
Pinti, however, did not get to retire when planned because it was at that time the city identified its first COVID-19 patient. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Mike DeWine began to shut down the state as the coronavirus pandemic grew.
The office, he said, has been consumed with COVID-19 and its aftermath.
“We have not experienced anything like this before,” Pinti said. “We are doing health assessments. It is hoped the information gathered will help to identify sources of infections and slow the spread.”
Warren Health Department has 12 full-time workers and six contract employees, as well as contract tracers hired for COVID-19, so those numbers could fluctuate.
“I think it will be a while before COVID-19 will be in check,” Pinti said. “We are encouraging the usage of masks. Most people do not realize the value of putting masks on. They are protecting others. It is disturbing to me when I go into a store and see people not wearing masks.”
He emphasized the need for people to wear face masks whenever they go outside and are around people.
“Its very important,” he said.
HIRED IN 2000
Pinti was hired to be the city’s deputy health commissioner in 2000.
“Doing public health work is different today than when I began,” Pinti said. “There are aspects of public health that did not exist.”
The discussion about racism being a public health crisis is an example.
“That was not on the radar,” Pinti said. “Public health is now involved in everything. When I began, it was making sure people were receiving the appropriate vaccines on time and disease prevention.”
Pinti said the core functions of the office remain the same, but many others have been added.
“The primary function of a health department is to promote good health, disease prevention and to protect the public,” he said. “People — especially council members — think to call us when there are housing code problems and high grass.”
Although he appreciates the funds the department has received over the years, Pinti said the department could use more to address its ever-expanding services.
“However, we recognize there are so many issues facing city leaders,” he said. “They are doing what they can with the funds available. All of the mayors and councils I’ve worked with have been supportive of the department.”
As a new retiree, Pinti and his wife, Kathy, are not sure about their immediate plans.
“I would like to say we are going to being doing a lot of traveling,” he said. “But under these conditions, we’re not.”