The following was released on Thursday, May 21, 2020:
Fort Wayne, Ind. (May 21, 2020) – Potential changes to the Allen County health commissioner’s position and salary are not a diminishment of the important duties or pay for the role, Department leadership clarified Thursday.
The Allen County Department of Health leadership wanted to ensure a clear understanding of this potential change in response to some confusion after the Allen County Council approved amending the health commissioner's annual salary as well as amending a range of hourly pay for a second part-time physician to fill a clinical role.
“For 20 years, Dr. Deborah McMahan has passionately executed two separate but equally important functions for the Department as an advocate for public health and a clinical practitioner providing medical care to patients,” said Mindy Waldron, department administrator. “Those functions have grown and expanded under her leadership, and the hiring committee believes during this unprecedented time looking for two individuals to fill those roles will provide the opportunity to find people who excel in each area while still serving Allen County’s public health needs at the highest level.”
The hiring committee decided to take a different approach when looking to fill the soon-to-be-vacant health commissioner position because the current position has required someone working full-time who excels at and is interested in the public, research, education, and decision-making side of the position as well as the clinical aspects – all at a salary well below the pay of the average local physician.
The new plan includes the following to meet all of the needs of the health commissioner’s roles and responsibilities:
(1) HEALTH COMMISSIONER: This role will be a part-time physician fulfilling high-level duties as medical director for the Department, and is responsible for decision-making, public education, strategic planning, presentations, departmental representation, consultation on certain communicable disease actions and overall departmental direction.
(2) PUBLIC HEALTH CLINICAL PHYSICIAN: This role will be a second part-time physician, who will fulfill clinical aspects of the current role as needed and more sporadically. This physician would work alongside medical staff in the Department’s clinical settings seeing patients one to two days per week as needed.
While leadership acknowledges the decision to split the health commissioner role into two part-time positions may not be ideal long-term, it will allow for both important functions to be fulfilled by qualified physicians without requiring a single individual take on the daunting responsibilities of leading the county during a pandemic while still providing necessary daily clinical care through immunizations, exams and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and civil surgeon exams.
McMahan announced in late January she would retire in June. Her last day with the Department is June 5, though she will continue to assist on a part-time basis with civil surgeon needs until the clinical replacement completes necessary requirements.