Dr. Christy Mulkerin, Deputy Health Officer, June 2017

Welcome to Dr. Christy Mulkerin, Deputy Health Officer

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 9/20/2017 4:44 PM

We recently welcomed Christy Mulkerin, M.D., to the new role of Deputy Health Officer, a hands-on position with broad responsibility to the Public Health Department’s mission.

In her work as a pediatrician in Santa Clara County, Christy Mulkerin focused on the individual patient: the young children in this medically underserved community who came to her clinic for care. At the same time, she couldn’t look away from the big picture: patterns of recurring illness and system-level challenges that are difficult to solve at the individual level.

It’s this dual perspective—a deep commitment to underserved patients and a focus on the big picture of our health system—that led Dr. Mulkerin to the new role of Deputy Health Officer.

“I’ve always had a passion for trying to improve health on a bigger scale,” she said. “I love thinking about problems in a big way and thinking about solutions that will better the health of a big population.”

As Deputy Health Officer, she brings this perspective to understanding and addressing the needs of vulnerable people in our county, from at-risk infants to people in custody and residents of rural areas with limited access to care.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a healthy life. Yet many people in our county are facing real barriers to being healthy,” she said. “My work is grounded in a commitment to listening to the needs of these underserved groups in our community and doing everything we can to meet those needs. We have to do right by the people who need our services and advocacy the most.”

At the heart of this effort is collaboration—with colleagues in Public Health and other County agencies, community organizations, individuals, and families.

“The best part of the job is coming together with so many types of people to solve problems,” she said. “The field of public health draws a really committed group. Everyone has the same goal, which is to keep our residents as healthy as possible.”

The role demands a blend of clinical and system-level skills, the ability to seamlessly step from evaluating a young patient at Martha’s Place to discussing strategy for rolling out an electronic health records system at the County Jail or investigating a disease outbreak. In each case, Dr. Mulkerin is guided by a commitment to making decisions based on proven effectiveness: “focusing on changes that evidence shows will make a difference.” 

This connects directly to her core role supporting County Health Officer Penny Borenstein, M.D., M.P.H. in carrying out the mission of the Public Health Department.

Dr. Mulkerin took on the role of Deputy Health Officer in November 2016. Prior to this, she worked for seven years in clinical practice as a pediatrician and served as a clinical instructor for Stanford University School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the University of California, San Francisco Pediatric Residency Program and earned her M.D. from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Dr. Mulkerin speaks Spanish fluently and has served as a volunteer physician in Ecuador.

She moved to San Luis Obispo with her husband and two sons, ages five and seven, when she accepted the role as Deputy Health Officer last year.

“I love this area,” she said. “I love the people, love the beach, love to hike. I’m really committed to this population. San Luis Obispo County is such a great place to live—and there is so much to do to make it even better.”