In a one-sentence statement, Thomas Sharp has resigned his position as health officer for Monroe County, effective on April 30.
The board of health has appointed Clark Brittain as the new health officer, which is pending approval by the board of county commissioners.
Based on the health department’s record of a re-appointment made in 1998, Sharp’s service as health officer started 47 years ago, in 1976.
Sharp was most recently re-appointed in November 2021.
Under state law, it’s the county health officer who appoints the health administrator, public health nurses, environmental health specialists, computer programmers, clerks, other personnel in the health department.
On Thursday, Monroe County’s board of health met in executive session, closed to the public, under IC 5-14-1.5-6.1(b)(5) (Indiana’s Open Door Law) which allows a public body to close a meeting to the public, in order to “receive information about and interview prospective employees.”
Previously, on Feb. 9, the board of health had met in closed session under IC 5-14-1.5-6.1(b)(9) (Indiana’s Open Door Law), which allows a public body to close a meeting to the public, in order to “to discuss a job performance evaluation of individual employees.”
Right after Thursday’s closed session, the board met in an open meeting to accept Sharp’s resignation, which is effective April 30.
Also during the board’s open session, which lasted just over two minutes, a unanimous vote was taken to appoint Clark Brittain as the new health officer. Brittain is a local doctor of osteopathic medicine who operates a gynecological practice.
In this year’s adopted Monroe County budget, the health officer is paid $26,700
While it’s the board of health that appoints the county health officer, the appointment is subject to approval by the board of county commissioners. County commissioner Julie Thomas confirmed to The B Square that Brittain’s appointment will be considered at the regular meeting of commissioners next Wednesday (April 26).
Sharp and Brittain are both licensed physicians in the state of Indiana, which is a requirement for county health officers. But under pending legislation that’s under consideration by the Indiana General Assembly, being a licensed physician would no longer be a ridgid requirement for county health officers.
If SB 04 is enacted, a county health officer would either have to be a licensed physician or have a master’s degree in public health and five years of experience in public health. SB 04, which covers way more ground than just health officer requirements, is currently in conference committee.
Sharp’s resignation comes after some resignations and firings of health department staff in what was a rough transition from longtime health administrator Penny Caudill, who retired in mid-2022, to her replacement, Lori Kelley.