Garth Russo, who has served as interim executive director of the University of Georgia Health Center since February, has been appointed to the post on a permanent basis.
Russo has been leading the University Health Center as interim executive director since Jean Chin retired this past January. Russo comes to the position after decades of service to the university, having joined the health center in 1991 and serving as senior director of medical services prior to this appointment.
Russo will provide strategic leadership for all aspects of the operation of the University Health Center, including the provision of medical, mental health and counseling services, health promotion and educational outreach programs, and clinical support services. He also will be responsible for the direction of administrative support services, fiscal and facility management, and collaboration with campus and community stakeholders on health and wellness matters, including public health and emergency management and planning.
Russo’s appointment was effective Aug. 1. He reports directly to the vice president for student affairs and serves as a member of the leadership team for the Division of Student Affairs.
“Dr. Russo’s expertise and understanding of the health center’s medical operations is extensive,” said Victor K. Wilson, vice president for student affairs. “His long tenure of service gives him invaluable historical perspective and personal investment to continue the health center’s growth into one of the top college health operations in the world.”
One of only 17 Joint Commission accredited college health centers, the University Health Center is the on-campus medical hub of the University of Georgia, providing care for UGA’s more than 36,000 students, along with UGA faculty and staff in selected service areas.
The health center currently employs a staff of nearly 300, operates with an annual budget of approximately $25 million, and occupies a state-of-the-art medical facility of more than 110,000 square feet on the university’s East Campus.
In 2016, the University Health Center achieved Primary Care Medical Home accreditation and was fully reaccredited for all services by the Joint Commission. The recognition is the second consecutive time the center received a flawless report of findings.
Russo said that all of these resources and excellent staff are in support of a healthy university community, emphasizing the health center’s dedication to students and their families.
“Students may be navigating the health care system for the first time without their parents,” he said.
They can trust that we understand, and we assure them that the health center is prepared to serve as their health and wellness home away from home.”
Russo brings more than 30 years of experience in health services. He joined the health center after serving four years in the National Health Service Corps in North Georgia. He has interests in wilderness medicine and clinical IT and serves as the medical information officer for the health center.
Russo received his M.D. from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and completed a family medicine residency with the East Carolina University School of Medicine. He is board certified in family medicine and clinical informatics and is a licensed physician for the state of Georgia.