Bob Snyder is retiring for the second time in his long career as a health care administrator. This one, he says, will stick.
If the first one stuck, Snyder never would have become the administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Flagler County, a position he held for the past eight and a half years.
In that time, he helped establish an HIV program and a diabetes education and prevention program. He expanded the department’s dental program, which has become the largest pediatric dental practice in the county, primarily taking care of children on Medicaid.
He spent eight years lobbying for more equitable funding from the state. When he became the Health Department’s administrator, Flagler County had the lowest per capita share of non-categorical general state revenue, because it was based on population figures dating back 25 or 30 years, Snyder said.
“It took a while, but it was an eight-year-long effort to get that fixed and corrected,” he said. “And it was done through cooperation with colleagues with the Health Department as well as getting a big assist from our state representative and Speaker of the House, Paul Renner, and also Sen. Travis Hutson.”
Snyder’s greatest and most rewarding challenge was leading the department’s response to COVID.
He coordinated with the city, the county, the media, local churches and organizations and even bars and restaurants where the department provided testing and vaccinations.
“We were participating in town halls with the city on a regular basis, weekly and monthly, and on Free for All Fridays (on Flagler Broadcasting),” said Dr. Stephen Bickel, the Health Department’s medical director. “The testing program Bob rolled out was extraordinary, and that was followed by the vaccination program.”
He's always been supportive of trying to do primary care, filling gaps in the community. It’s going to be very hard to replace him, very hard.” — Dr. STEPHEN BICKEL
The department coordinated drive-thru vaccinations at the Flagler County Fairgrounds for up to 700 people a day for several months.
“Whoever thought there would be a global pandemic? With our numerous senior citizens that live here, our response was very important and it needed to be done effectively and efficiently,” Snyder said. “We did it with a wonderful medical director in Dr. Bickel, a fantastic Health Department team, a group of volunteers and a partnership with many groups and organizations.”
Bickel said, “For the longest time, we had the lowest case rate in the state for a county, and we still are quite low. And we had good partners. But Bob was instrumental in coordinating with these all these different people.”
Snyder originally came to Flagler County in 1997 to oversee the planning, development and construction of a new hospital, which is now AdventHealth Palm Coast off State Road 100. Snyder and his wife, Michele, remained in Flagler Beach while he worked for Orlando Health as a chief operating officer and administrator as several Central Florida hospitals.
He thought he was retiring in 2012 until, through the Flagler Beach Rotary Club, he met Patrick Johnson, the administrator of the Flagler County Health Department. Johnson brought Snyder on board as the department’s business manager. Two years later, Johnson retired and Snyder was appointed the administrator by the state’s Surgeon General.
“Health departments don’t look at metrics like a company would to gauge what each department accomplished,” Bickel said. “If they did, Bob would be getting accolades, because what he did was just so proactive, so energetic. He was always looking to add new programs. He's always been supportive of trying to do primary care, filling gaps in the community. It’s going to be very hard to replace him, very hard.”
Stephen Civitelli, the Volusia County Health Department’s administrator, has been named the interim administrator in Flagler County.
Snyder will continue to work with Bickel on the board of directors and executive committee of Flagler Cares. He will continue to work with the county to get a second Health Department building constructed, this one in Palm Coast that will also house Flagler Cares and the Flagler County Village, a hub of several organizations that assist the most vulnerable residents of the county.
He will continue to be on the board of the Rotary Club and he has been named the new coordinator of the Eucharistic ministry at the hospital representing St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.
That’s what retirement looks like for Bob Snyder.