BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Public Health Director Matt Constantine told county supervisors back in 2019 that he would be stepping down from his position in March of this year, never imagining what his final months would be like on the job.
After nearly three decades of service in the county, Constantine reflected on how he learned he "didn't" get the job.
"I wasn't home, and Environmental Health called my home and offered the job to my wife," he said. "And I felt, 'This is where I want to be,' because they felt comfortable enough telling my wife that I got the job, and then my wife got to tell me. I love that, because that's Kern County right there."
Constantine began as a health inspector for Environmental Health. About 10 years later, in 2006, he was the director.
For around 18 to 24 months, he was involved with animal control.
"Certainly not my area of expertise," he said. "So that was a great time for me to learn about supervision and public perception and working with the community. I learned a lot during that period of time."
In 2009, the Board of Supervisors asked Constantine to help consolidate several departments into one larger public health organization. That's when he became the Director of Kern County Public Health.
Constantine started his run as director right in the midst of the H1N1 outbreak. He said it's ironic that now towards the end of his career he's helping to fight back against the coronavirus.
"It's been an interesting time," he said.
As Director of Public Health, Constantine learned that every experience is important. He said lessons he learned decades ago have only helped him more and more as the years go by.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic was a unique experience for him because it not only had health implications, but economic and societal implications.
While he reflects back on his years of work, he said it couldn't have been possible without the staff he had helping him.
"I'm one of many that work at Public Health. We come to work every single day and I am surrounded by amazing people," he said. "And you don't see them, because they're behind the scene, they're the ones doing the work. I am honored enough to sit by them every once and a while, but those are the heroes."
Now that he's preparing to retire, Constantine said he's going to miss all the people he worked with and the work they did together for the community.