On Friday, The B Square received an anonymous tip that Monroe County’s health department had implemented “a large layoff” without informing the local food services industry.
Stephen Pritchard, who is vice president of the board of health, was reached by The B Square on Saturday morning for comment.
Pritchard confirmed some departures from the department, a number he pegged at “less than five.”
Responding to a followup question, Pritchard wrote that one position was in vital records, and another in environmental services. Pritchard wrote that he is unsure in which area a third departure worked.
In Monroe County’s health department, environmental services encompasses food safety, among other areas.
About the possible perception that there had been large numbers of health department employees who have left, Pritchard wrote, “Some of these departures were in the past week, which may have created the impression, among some, that there was a large exodus, which is false.”
Pritchard wrote that the open positions would be posted, using the proper county channels, most likely right away.
Pritchard also commented on the transition from long-time health administrator Penny Caudill to current administrator Lori Kelley. That transition “has not been without its challenges, which is to be expected,” Pritchard wrote.
A point of emphasis in Pritchard’s correspondence to The B Square is the current state of the county health department’s functionality. “The health department is functioning and all services are available and we are working to resolve any additional concerns,” Pritchard wrote.
Pritchard continued, “[T]he citizens of Monroe County are being served by the department. The staff does an amazing job, given the understaffing of basically all health departments in the state of Indiana.”
On the role of the board of health in the department’s operations, Pritchard wrote, “The board of health has never been involved in the day to day operations of the health department.” He continued, “It has traditionally seen its role as developing health policy and recommending said health policies to the commissioners for their consideration.”
Pritchard added, “More recently we have been involved in some administrative matters that we felt needed some additional input.”
Monroe County’s board of health has given notice of a recent meeting on the topic of personnel.
The board gave notice, as required under Indiana’s Open Door Law, of an executive session of the board at 2 p.m. on Dec. 2 to talk about personnel issues. A discussion of personnel matters is one of the reasons a public body can exclude the public from a meeting.
The B Square was not able to reach Monroe County health administrator Lori Kelley for this report. Kelley has served as the county’s health administrator since mid-July this year when long-time administrator Penny Caudill retired.
In mid-June, Caudill introduced Kelley to the county commissioners at their regular Wednesday morning meeting. She started a month before Caudill retired, so that she could meet the other department heads, and learn Monroe County’s processes, Caudill told commissioners.
Caudill told commissioners that Kelley has a master’s degree in health administration and in philanthropy. Kelley had previously assisted with grant proposals with the Indiana University school of dentistry, Caudill said. Kelley has experience with accreditation procedures and with training and developing new staff, Caudill said.