Dr. Larry Jecha will be the Yakima Health District’s interim health officer, replacing Dr. Teresa Everson, whose last day was Friday.

Jecha is the health officer for Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, as well Garfield and Columbia counties, according to a news release from the Yakima Health District. He lives in the Tri-Cities. He previously served as the health officer at the Benton-Franklin Health District for 23 years and spent 23 years in aerospace medicine as a chief flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force.

He received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Kansas Medical School and his masters of public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Dr. Jecha lives in Eastern Washington and has protected the health of rural residents in a distinguished career of public service,” Yakima Health District Executive Director Andre Fresco said. “His knowledge of public health principles and experience in serving communities similar to the Yakima Valley will prove invaluable in our COVID-19 response.”

A health officer provides expertise, helps craft policy and health orders, and guides the Board of Health on its health strategies and concerns, the news release said.

Jecha will serve as interim health officer until a permanent replacement is selected. Future plans related to the recruitment of a permanent health officer will be discussed at upcoming Board of Health meetings.

Everson said earlier this month she was leaving for personal reasons.