Get to Know Dr. Renée Haynes
Get to know Dr. Renée Haynes, district health director for the North Central Health District
Dr. Renee Haynes has been serving Macon-Bibb County as the district health director for just more than a year. Pursuing degrees in public health and medicine, she grew up in Miami and then got her undergraduate degree from Duke University. After that came a master’s in public health from Florida International University, medical school and a fellowship at Morehouse School of Medicine, and residency at the University of South Florida. As she says, she’s been in school “for a very long time, but it’s okay because I love learning.”
Tell us about your role at the Macon-Bibb County Health Department:
The health department has a huge responsibility, we see everyone. Whether they can pay or not, that doesn’t stop us from giving them the care they need. Because we don’t run as your typical private practice would, the state gives us money so that we can accomplish our mission of serving all of our community. With that money comes deliverables and guidelines. Part of my role is to make sure we provide the deliverables and adhere to the guidelines so that we can continue to serve our residents. My medical license is used to provide patients with prescriptions for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Our nurses operate on clinical protocols, and are among the best trained nurses in the state.
What is your vision for the Health Department?
My vision has to align with the wants of the community, as the health department belongs to the community. The community has informed us that they want high quality care, provided in an expedient manner, in a welcoming setting. We are striving to achieve those standards on a daily basis.
When you talk about Macon to people who don’t live here, what do you tell them?
I tell them how I feel about Macon. I love it here. Macon has everything I want. My neighbor asks me how I’m doing and checks in on me. The food makes me dance while I eat (folks tease me about that). Amerson River Park lets me walk by the water. And the library is beautiful with friendly staff.
If you could issue a challenge to Macon-Bibb, what would it be?
Love yourself and love your neighbor. Do the things that nourish your soul, body and community.
What is holding Macon back from being a stronger city?
Poverty. Over a quarter of our county lives in poverty. What’s worse is about 40 percent of our children live in poverty. Being strong takes a lot of resources. When you’re impoverished, you’re struggling for resources. The odds are stacked against you.
How could we better serve our residents?
By reflecting on how we can best use the resources that we have. We might not have as much as others, but we are responsible for getting the best bang out of the buck that we do have.
How could Macon help you and the HD be successful in your work?
Macon already has helped us acquire a new home with the SPLOST fund. Thank you. Macon can continue to help us by talking about us and visiting us. If you have a good experience at the health department, tell your friends and family. If you have a bad experience, provide us with feedback, help us be better.
What are three qualities that got you where you are today?
Being fair: Folks may not always be happy with your decisions, but they are more accepting of them if they understand the same opportunity/consequence applies to everyone.
Honoring my word: People won’t want to collaborate or do business with you if your word isn’t worth anything.
Remembering who we serve: I tell my coworkers, we all have the same boss. It’s the residents of this county who rely on us. Is what we’re doing now what’s best for them?
How are you helping people live well?
Macon-Bibb Health Department has been serving the community since 1882. A lot of times when folks think of the health department they think of shots (immunizations) and STDs. But because of the size of the Macon-Bibb community, our health department is able to offer so much more. We provide car seats for those who can’t afford it. We have a teen clinic so that teens can receive care in a space that is uniquely theirs. We have vital records, which allows folks to get birth and death certificates. We have health educators who go out to the communities and teach folks about how to be healthier versions of themselves.
How do you define living well?
Living well is having all aspects of your world work together to promote your health. It means feeling safe and comfortable where you live, having a job that maximizes on your unique skill set, having family and/or friends who genuinely care about you, having the opportunity to obtain a sound education, and being surrounded by a community that values whole health.
What are you most excited about right now in our community?
There’s a lot to be excited about. We’ve got a graduation rate that’s soaring, a revitalized downtown and blight that’s being reduced and our health department is moving to a new home next year!
How did you come to be in Macon?
The North Central Health District has 13 counties, as a term of employment I had to pick one of the counties to reside in. They actually asked me about it in my last interview in which there was a representative (or more) from each of the county boards of health. Being interviewed by over a dozen folks is an experience. I’m a straight shooter and gave them my honest answer and reasoning. Our district headquarters is in Macon, and I was going to find a place to live as close to work as possible. I had done more than my fair share of time sitting in Atlanta traffic, and I was ready to kiss long commutes goodbye. And true to my word, I moved two miles from the office.
What are the most gratifying – and most challenging – parts of your job?
The most gratifying is when a patient is satisfied or smiling. When I’m in the health department, I’m usually moving from one spot to another. If I see someone looking lost, I’ll stop and take them to the department they’re trying to reach. That’s often when I get instant feedback on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. I’ve had clients tell me they had to wait so long in the lobby, that this employee was really nice to them, that the doorjamb to this room is stuck, etc. I get the whole gamut. The most challenging part of my job is the politics. Straight shooters can get in a lot of trouble in the world of politics. So, I oftentimes have to be very cognizant of my surroundings.
How do you define success?
Success is doing right. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some missteps. But it means each day you try your best to do right in regards to your children, your sweetheart, your co-workers and your community.