This is the sixth in a series of articles introducing candidates to the Board of Trustees of Cape Girardeau County’s Public Health Center in the April 6 local elections. The trustees are unpaid and hold monthly meetings. Kara Clark Summers, who has been a district clerk since 2007, told the Southeast Missourian that never before had so many people been filed as PHC trustees in her tenure.

Matt Uchtman, a chiropractic doctor, owns Elevation Chiropractic and is a co-owner of Kingdom Health and Wellness in Cape Girardeau. A native of Steelville, Illinois, a Southeast Missouri State graduate, and his family have lived in Cape County for a total of 15 years. Uchtman, 40, is aiming for a full four-year term for the PHC Trustees.

Why do you want to serve

Public health is such an important area in any community, but COVID has just highlighted its importance. COVID has created a lot of uncertainty and fear, and Cape Girardeau County’s citizens continue to seek guidance and support. For me, my entire career has been focused on helping people restore and maintain their health. I do that every day.

I felt it was a great opportunity for me not only to give back to the community, but also to use my knowledge base and experience to lead part of this leadership. especially now when people are really looking for it.

How do you personally feel about the still valid mask order from July 9th?

There is definitely a time and a place for masks. However, I think it is important that we are objective and evaluate its effectiveness. What type of mask is used? How are they worn? Who wears them and how long do they wear them? Are we talking about masks for people who are symptomatic or asymptomatic? I think it is important to rethink this ongoing mandate and look at mitigation strategies in other countries and examine their results. If we are to protect the health of the community as a whole, we should consider people’s individual rights. There is a time and place when masks can be absolutely useful, but we need to constantly reassess them to make sure our strategies are most effective and produce the results we want.

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What are your qualifications / background?

I have two bachelor’s degrees? one from SEMO in 2003 and one from Logan College of Chiropractic in 2005. I received my PhD from Logan in 2007.

I have received certifications in nutrition and functional neurology over the years.

I have studied in specific areas for years: cancer, heart disease, diabetes and immunity.

I have initiated a certification process through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to direct and direct the emergency response.

I was a member of a Sports Performance Council and a Wellness Advisory Council for USA Wrestling.

I am a man and a father and a businessman.

I think this kind of background gives me a perspective that allows me to bring a lot of objectivity into decision making and ask various questions that might otherwise remain on the table.

What role should trustees play in Cape Girardeau County’s public health?

I think we should be very supportive of the health department and work for the community. It is important that we enable open communication across the board: Individuals, churches, schools and business owners must ensure that platforms are available on which people can be heard at all times, not only during COVID.

The board should provide confident leadership, especially during uncertain times, so that we can come together as a community to reduce divisions, build hope and trust, and enable people to make informed decisions.

What are your goals as a Trustee of the County Health Board?

What excites me is that when we face challenges, I want to make sure we learn. I don’t think COVID-19 will be the last we face. We need to evaluate and reflect and be able to be prepared. It is very important, and COVID has brought this to the surface, that we proactively strengthen our own health. We have to take responsibility there. COVID highlighted this in relation to people with pre-existing medical conditions and comorbidities. I think we need to do a better job so people know what steps to take to prepare. Residents will make better, safer decisions when they feel informed rather than making decisions out of fear.

Outside of COVID, we need to support and possibly improve some of the great programs the Health Department has already put in place: WIC (Women’s, Infant and Child Nutrition), school programs, community wellness initiatives, not to mention additional benefit programs across the county.