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Umatilla County reorganizes public health department

Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on September 3, 2018 8:30PM

Umatilla County is reorganizing the leadership in the public health department this week.

Commissioner George Murdock didn’t offer details but said the department will have a new director while embracing a team approach.

“I can tell you we’re not going with someone from outside,” he said, because the department has staff with the depth of experience for the job.

Jim Setzer was the fourth director to head up the department since 2014, and he resigned Aug. 6. Murdock said the county was not expecting that. He is the county board of commissioners’ liaison to the health department and has twice served as the department’s interim director. He said he sat down with the department staff soon after Setzer announced his departure and asked them to come up with a plan to shut down the revolving door.

“I gave them some parameters on what I’d like it to look like,” he said, including staying within the budget. The staff filled in the framework, he said, and came up with a creative solution.

The Umatilla County Public Health Department has almost 27 full-time employees and a budget of $4.4 million. The department encompasses several programs, including on-site septic inspections, family planning and school-based health. Commissioners see the proposal Tuesday morning during their meeting with department heads then vote on the plan Wednesday morning at their regular public meeting in Pendleton.

Murdock also said commissioners are voting Wednesday to end the agricultural burn ban. He said ag burning in the county will again be OK as soon as the “ayes” have it.


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