CHAPEL HILL – Dr. Colleen Bridger, Orange County Health Director, has been named the North Carolina Health Director of the Year.

The award was given Wednesday by the North Carolina Association of Local Health Directors. Bridger was recognized for her outstanding leadership in public health and involvement in community activities.

“It was so much fun! If I could win only one award, this is the award I wanted to win,” Bridger said.

Bridger said that what made this award so special was that she was nominated by her co-workers and was selected by other Health Directors in the State.

She said the honor wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of her colleagues in the OC Health Department, a team that Bridger said has been recognized for its innovation.

“I love to be associated with that wonderful reputation and to help lead the organization which continues to push that envelope, and let’s figure out new and better ways to do what we do.”

The nomination cited Bridger’s work on health policies such as the smoking ban in Orange County, which took effect last July.

“That was a long process that resulted in one of the most comprehensive smoking bans in the nation, which is amazing in North Carolina.”

Bridger said she is also proud of the Health Department’s work with the Naloxone distribution to counter the life-threatening effects of opioid overdoses.

“If someone is suffering from an overdose of an opiate-based drug, then we have the medication to counteract that and save that person’s life.”

Bridger has been the Health Director in Orange County since October of 2011.