Council members raise questions over Appleton Health Officer vacancy

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 11, 2021 at 10:49 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s been more than two months since Appleton’s Health Officer retired, and the position is still vacant amid growing concerns about the Delta Variant.

The issue was addressed Wednesday during a meeting of the city’s board of health.

According to city documents, a resolution authored by four city members including council president Matt Reed, would prioritize the hiring of a Health Officer. It comes after a decision by Mayor Jake Woodford last week to once again, require masking on city property that’s indoors.

Reed said Tuesday, “Our viewpoint really is, simply this. If there’s ever a time we needed a public health officer it’s right now.”

Former Health Officer Kurt Eggebrecht retired June 4th, and the search for his replacement began in March.

Right now, the city has an interim health officer who was previously a public health nurse, and has been employed by the city since 2013.

“There’s been a lot of turnover in that area and it’s been a challenging area to hire for not only the city of Appleton, but many health jurisdictions,” Woodford said, about the hiring process.

Reed added, “We’re not questioning that. We’re not claiming to be HR experts. What we want to do is make sure the process is transparent and that we’re using every tool in the toolbox to get the best candidate, because it is, a very competitive environment.”

However, members of the board of health, Wednesday morning, removed much of the language calling on the position to be filled quickly.

Another change requested that the mayor continue to follow guidance from the CDC, and interim health officer.

At this point, Woodford says there’s no timetable for when the position might be filled.

He added, “I won’t compromise on quality and quality qualifications and this is an extremely important role that serves our whole community and we want to make sure we get this right.”

After the board of health meeting Wednesday, Alderperson Joe Martin, who co-authored the resolution, told Action 2 News that it will be withdrawn.

He also says that council members supporting the resolution have made their point without the desire for further discussion.

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