In Memoriam: Dr. Ulder Tillman

aca_summit_tillmanDr. Ulder Tillman, Montgomery County’s Health Officer for the last 13 years and a respected community leader, passed away suddenly on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.

Dr. Tillman was a brilliant physician and administrator with a medical degree from Harvard University and a Master’s in Public Health from John’s Hopkins. Public health was her true vocation.

Dr. Tillman was appointed Health Officer and Chief by former Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan in 2003. In this role, Dr. Tillman oversaw all public health services including epidemiology, health planning and improvement, licensure and regulatory services, school health services, and community health services. Known for her calm demeanor and ability to clearly explain complex medical information, Dr. Tillman expertly and skillfully led the community in understanding and preparing for a number of health issues ranging from flu prevention to awareness of mosquito borne illnesses such as the Zika virus, and Ebola preparedness.

One of Dr. Tillman’s passions was reducing health disparities and increasing access to quality health care. She worked collaboratively with the Primary Care Coalition and a number of safety-net clinics to foster and expand Montgomery Cares, a public-private partnership that provides essential health services to low-income adults in Montgomery County. With her oversight, Montgomery Cares evolved to become the most robust health care safety-net program in Maryland serving 24,000 individuals each year. She also oversaw Care for Kids, Maternity Partnership, Health Care for the Homeless, and the County Dental program all of which serve residents of limited means.

Many of us at the Primary Care Coalition worked with Dr. Tillman on these initiatives. We will remember her for her tenacity, humor, resilience, and steadfast commitment to public health.

We extend our sincere condolences to Dr. Tillman’s family, to her colleagues and friends at the Department of Health and Human Services, and to all members of the community that she served so well.