Health Department on the ropes
New director issues first report card: ‘D minus’ at best, says Lenhart
PAMLICO COUNTY – Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m. three separate governmental boards will convene – at the same time in the same room – to consider the pros and cons of merging one county agency into another.
The hot topic is the fate of the Pamlico County Health Department – an entity that has seen its share of woes over the past decade, including a revolving door of directors.
The newest Health Department Director, Scott Lenhart, has been on the job two months. In an unprecedented report publicly released Feb. 13, Lenhart wasted no time in lowering the boom.
In fact, the bombshell came in just the second sentence:
“First of all, if I had to give an overall rating for the Pamlico County Health Department, I would give the health department at best a D- rating,” wrote Lenhart.
Taking care not to cast aspersions toward any of this predecessors — or in the direction of current staffers and elected officials – Lenhart cited a ‘cumulative’ effect in which many of the problems have surfaced “over a period of several years, for whatever reason, as the health department lost its primary focus on what public health is all about.”
Despite a laundry list of “several major issues, which need to be addressed immediately in order to remain operational,” Lenhart was quick to praise HOPE Clinic – a separate nonprofit operating from the Health Department – offering free health care and medicine to low income county residents.
“Space is limited because HOPE Clinic is taking up five offices,” explained Lenhart. “We need the HOPE clinic as much as the HOPE Clinic needs us. Their patients are our patients. Both agencies are in need of space.”
Experts and consultants from the North Carolina School of Government – a subset of the University of North Carolina – are expected to offer insights and recommendations during the Monday, Feb. 20 meeting, which is scheduled for a conference room at the Pamlico County Department of Social Services on Old Main Street in Alliance.
Space could be tight, as three entities — the Board of Directors for the Health Department, the Board of Directors for the Department of Social Services, and the Pamlico County Board of Commissioners – will all attend in order to mull over options.
The session, which is open to the public and to the news media, begins at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call the Pamlico County Manager’s Office at (252) 745-3133.