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Posted December 16, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

The doctor is in: Devine brings diverse background to role with Lord Fairfax Health District

Devine brings diverse background to role with Lord Fairfax Health District

By Amber Marra- amarra@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- A man of many interests has taken the helm of the Lord Fairfax Health District.

Dr. Charles Devine III rides his bicycle to his new office on North Kent Street every day, except when it is too cold to do so. He then goes about his business as the new director of the district behind a desk strewn with a variety of objects spanning from antique sirens and ambulance lights, to a bubble gum machine that reads "bubble gum is free on days that end in 'y.'"

There is even a shattered piece of stage lighting thrown in the mix of paperwork and a laptop, all of which tell a little about Devine as both a health care professional and his life before he decided to dedicate it to serving the public.

Devine comes to Winchester after serving as health director for both the Pittsylvania/Danville and Southside districts in the southern part of the state, but it was his original interest in emergency medicine that bloomed into the urge to find a more direct way of working through the Department of Health.

"I began to see it as an interesting and worthwhile second career," he said. "It sounds corny, but I like the idea of returning service to the public."

Devine's history of working with rescue squads, fire departments, and even as tactical response to SWAT teams is reflected in the ruby red ambulance light on the corner of his desk and an antique siren he pulls from behind. His connection to emergency services and experience in a leadership position gave his predecessor, Dr. Stephen Haering, the confidence he needed in a replacement as he moved on to serve as director for Alexandria's health district.

"I know he has a lot of experience in the emergency room, so he should have a good rapport with local health care providers," Haering said. "Beyond that, he has the experience of serving as health director combined with working on the clinical side of public health."

Devine says that Haering "continues to act as a mentor" as he gets adjusted to his new surroundings, but that hasn't stopped him from diving right into making his presence known by attending county government meetings across the board.

"There aren't any disasters here. The district is in good order, so there aren't things that I need to leap into and act on instantly," Devine said.

He also added that while the Lord Fairfax district doesn't share many of the issues of in the previous two districts he oversaw, he will not dawdle on the dilemmas that plague every community in some capacity. In doing so, Devine met with L8R Baby, a group dedicated to reducing teen pregnancy rates in the Shenandoah Valley, to discuss infant mortality, an area he feels deserves attention.

"We're all people, and people tend to have similar problems," he said.

Devine's cheerful disposition is conveyed in his vibrant bow tie and the colorful bubble gum machine sitting on his desk. His eyes light up from behind his glasses even more so as he explains his excitement about having Shenandoah University's conservatory close by, and that one of the first things he got to do in Winchester was attend a fall dance concert.

This plays into his "first love" and undergraduate degree in lighting design pertaining to ballet from the former North Carolina School of the Arts.

The urge to attend medical school sent him to Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, but his initial interest in stage lighting shines through with the presence of a cracked lens from a stage lighting instrument on his desk, and his promise to eventually reach out to the conservatory.

"My father was a physician, his father was a physician, so it's hard to leave that family influence behind," Devine said.

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