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Public Health Officers Melnick and Krager Resign from Cowlitz County

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Clark County Public Health Officers Dr. Alan Melnick and Deputy Health Officer Steve Krager resigned after Cowlitz County’s Board of Health declined to renew their contract. The county board decided at its last regular meeting of the year, and no more meetings are scheduled before January to address it.

Photo from Google

Cowlitz County Health Officer Contract Renewal in Question as Clark County Public Health Officials Resign Amid Dissatisfaction

The Cowlitz County Board of Health did renew the health officer contract, which expires this year. The board requested bids instead of renewing the contract, and Clark County Public Health was the only applicant. Dissatisfied with the health officer’s performance, the Board of Health resolved to examine alternative possibilities on November 21.

Cowlitz County Commissioner and Board of Health member Arne Mortensen said the health officer could have been more helpful than planned, citing bias and a lack of fair information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Mortensen suggested hiring Krager directly rather than through Clark County.

Clark County Public Health employees Melnick and Krager are Cowlitz, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum county health officials. Their departure takes effect on Sunday, and Cowlitz County Health and Human Services may have trouble producing birth and death certificates without a new health officer by January 1.

READ ALSO: Majority of Cowlitz County Board of Health says COVID mandates, vaccines don’t work

Resignation of Melnick and Krager Raises Concerns Over Cowlitz County Health Officer Role and Legal Liabilities

Melnick and Krager resigned to prevent Cowlitz County from using their signatures on birth and death records while hiring new health officers. He worried about legal culpability and managing infectious disease control as a physician without a health officer title.

State law requires health boards to select county health officers. If a board cannot do so, the state will appoint one once the post is filled, but the statute does not provide a timetable. County health officers work with local healthcare and law enforcement organizations to enforce state health laws, prevent communicable diseases, and handle emergencies like pandemics.

READ ALSO: Clark County Public Health officers Melnick, Krager resign Cowlitz County roles

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