Home News PC Health Department gets go-ahead to find new health officer

PC Health Department gets go-ahead to find new health officer

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PC Health Department gets go-ahead to find new health officer

The Porter County Council on Tuesday gave the health department unanimous approval to expand the role of health officer from part- to full-time as a replacement is sought for retiring health officer Dr. Maria Stamp. Many counties with a similar population have been moving to a full-time health officer.

“It really lends itself well to a good time to switch over to a full-time health officer,” Stamp told the council, explaining that the state’s new Health First Indiana initiative and its ballooning funding, compared with the past, are allowing the health department to significantly expand its services.

Stamp, Porter County Health Department Director Carrie Gschwind, and Board of Health President Dr. Linda Boxum give monthly presentations to the Board of Commissioners on the department’s expanding initiatives.

They explained to the council one such effort, a task force being formed with the focus of working with schools. Mental health, substance abuse, school attendance and connectivity are some of the areas of focus.

“I saw the salary range. Are you sure you don’t want to stay?” asked Council Member Andy Vasquez, R-4th, referring to the salary, which also was approved for up to $150,000.

“Yes, it’s much more than my current pay,” Stamp replied. Stamp is currently paid $45,800 a year for her part-time role.

“We have a gift right now,” Boxum said.

But even at the higher, full-time pay, it is a significantly lower salary than a full-time family physician working for a hospital staff would make, Stamp explained after the council inquired where the proposed pay fell on the private sector spectrum.

The health department is hoping that a flexible schedule and no on-call duties, as well as other intangibles, will attract some willing candidates with experience.

Stamp has agreed to stay on until her replacement is hired. Gschwind said the position does not currently have a job description though one has been written for the new hire.

“In the past 13 years a lot has changed,” said Stamp who’s been in the role since 2011. “The scope of the position, really. It has never had a job description affiliated with it, just the (Indiana) code.”

Council Vice President Red Stone, R-1st, said he would like to see much of the new funding spent on services rather than administrative costs. Gschwind said there is some administrative work necessary to set up the planned expanded services.

However, Stamp said it may be possible with a full-time schedule for the new health officer to provide some clinical services, both expanding revenue and filling in service gaps in the process. She did acknowledge this may involve an initial outlay on the billing side. “We would need to get our billing coordinator trained,” she said.

The health department plans to launch its search immediately now that the position has been approved.

Shelley Jones is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.

 

 



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