LANSING, Mich. — It was a decision that has been prolonged for quite some time, but after deep thoughts, Ingham County Health Department Health Officer Linda Vail submitted her retirement letter.
“My last day is Feb. 17,” Vail said.
Vail has spent nearly two decades in public health, 16 of those years she served as a public health officer in Kalamazoo and here in Ingham County.
Throughout her career, she’s been at the center of numerous health emergencies.
But, Vail said none of those compared to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There were on average three pandemics per century, so we knew we were due for one,” Vail said.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Vail worked seven days a week and 18 hour shifts. She said she’ll never forget how many lives were lost to the virus that everyone knew so little about.
“I was getting phones calls in the middle of the night about people who were dying,” Vail said. “I remember seeing the name of an individual and then seeing the same last name, and it ended up being a father and a daughter.”
Moments like that took a toll on Vail’s mental health, which was a deciding factor for her retirement.
“I have bad anxiety and sometimes it’s once a week and sometimes it’s three to four times a night, and I can’t go back to sleep,” Vail said.
Although its been a long almost three years with the pandemic, Vail feels confident that she’s leaving the county in a good place, and she’s grateful for all of her experiences.
“Were there retreats, yeah, but if I wouldn’t have done those, there would have been more, so I wouldn’t change anything,” Vail said.
After retirement, Vail will be spending time with her kids, two granddaughters and traveling with her domestic partner, something the couple is used to doing.
“I like to hike, I like to bike ride, I like to travel and I need to do it early enough, so he and I can do those things together because he is older than me,” Vail said.