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ALABAMA (WHNT) — Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health became one of the most well-known faces in the state.

Landers, who has served as the Madison County Health Officer, will be taking on a new role as the state’s Chief Medical Officer.

According to the ADPH, Dr. Landers is “continuing her work for the citizens of Alabama by assuming the role of Chief Medical Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) upon the retirement of Dr. Mary McIntyre.”

From her childhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, to Birmingham where she went to medical school, Dr. Karen Landers has a career riddled with accomplishments and fueled by a passion that started as a result of her own illness when she was just eight years old.

“I actually was quite ill. I had pneumonia, had a seizure and I was in the hospital for several days. So that inspired me, I still remember getting a chest X-ray thinking that I would become a doctor,” said Dr. Landers.

Landers is a mother of two and a pediatrician. She has extensive training in Tuberculosis and infection control that has led to multiple awards and taken her around the state, the country, and the world in the name of health.

She has worked through Ebola, H1N1, Zika, but says COVID-19 came about at a time when she was seeking a change of pace.

Landers said, “I was going to retire in April but after this came along, I thought I’ve never deserted my post in a crisis and didn’t want to desert my post in a crisis. I stayed on to try to do what I could to help my department because the mission of the ADPH is to protect and promote the health of the citizens of Alabama.”

She became one of the faces and voices of Alabama’s ongoing fight against the pandemic. She joked that she’s tired of seeing herself on television but with her career, knows the importance of the work being done even in the face of intense criticism.

“Recognize that at the end of the day with that criticism comes growth, also empathy and understanding of where people are. I’ve had some pretty bad things said to me during this pandemic,” Landers said.

The well-known doctor will continue to work from both her Montgomery and Shoals offices, serving in an advisory role to Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s State Health Officer, while also in charge of overseeing the state’s home health program and family health services.

In a statement, Landers says, “Public health is at a point to move forward from the pandemic and, while COVID-19 is still with us, we must focus on the many other core health issues that are important to Alabamians.  It is important that we bring along the next generation of public health physicians to continue the work of promoting and protecting the health of our citizens.”