Lab Matters Fall 2020 - Page 7

FEATURE

Public Health Laboratory Leadership in the 21 st Century

By Jill Sakai , PhD , writer
There ’ s never an ideal situation . Mistakes are always going to happen , It ’ s just part of leadership . You make mistakes , and you learn from them , pull yourself up and keep moving forward .”
Myra Kunas , MS
Myra Kunas , MS , became the interim director of the Minnesota Public Health Laboratory on May 1 , fewer than two months after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the state . She didn ’ t expect taking the helm in the early stages of a pandemic would be easy . Fortunately , she had experience stepping into difficult situations : Just a few months after becoming assistant division director of the laboratory in 2015 , an internal situation unfolded that initiated a year of investigations , press releases and meetings with the governor ’ s office .
“ There ’ s never an ideal situation . Mistakes are always going to happen ,” Kunas said . “ It ’ s just part of leadership . You make mistakes , and you learn from them , pull yourself up and keep moving forward .”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit public health laboratories everywhere with an unforgiving combination of intense demands , logistical challenges and heightened scrutiny from officials and the public alike . For laboratory leaders , the fundamental goals have not changed : Oversee the laboratory ’ s staff and operations , and make sure the needed work gets done in a safe and efficient manner . But the pandemic response has forced a re-examination of the leadership roles , skills and strategies needed to carry public health laboratories through the 21 st century .
Fall 2020 LAB MATTERS 5