HEALTH DIRECTOR QUITS FOR TEACHING JOB

July 10, 2002 12:00 am

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By Bill Lundquist

Pilot Staff Writer

GOLD BEACH – Curry County Public Health Director Barbara Floyd announced Monday that she is resigning, effective Aug. 3.

Floyd said she has accepted a faculty appointment in the School of Nursing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. She will teach obstetric and pediatric nursing.

Floyd has served as Curry County's public health director since 1989. Though lauded for her community health achievements, she has been criticized by the current county commissioners for her financial management.

During budget hearings in the spring, Floyd weathered the commissioners' proposal to turn the public health department over to the state.

Since then, Floyd has worked with the Public Health Department Task Force to turn her department into a stand-alone entity outside the county's general fund.

Dr. Bill Swartz, chairman of the task force, told the commissioners Monday that the amount of training he puts in on an interim director will depend on how soon they hire a new director.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said two months might be a good target. She said Curry County cannot offer a top pay scale, and the state has requirements for county health directors.

Swartz, a professional health care administrator, gave the commissioners several suggestions about people and organizations to contact to find candidates for the position.

He viewed the director's job as a hands-on position. He said the director should spend 40 percent of the time out in the public health clinics.

"The director ought to know the job of every person," said Swartz. He said the director should be able to fill in for nurses, receptionists and public health educators.

Task force member Diane Pace said that would mean the director had to be a registered nurse.

Member Dale Thomas said that would fit in with the philosophy of maximum flexibility.

Swartz said the director should also have significant financial management abilities. He said that would take up another 40 percent of the job.

He said the remaining 20 percent would be spent on external customers outside the department.

Floyd said she had given the external component greater emphasis. With the restructuring of the department, she said, the new director wouldn't be able to spend even 20 percent of the time working with the outside community.

Schafer said the state requires that public health directors have a master's degree in a field like health or public administration, and two years experience in such fields.

She said the county should change its requirements to include more financial capabilities and more public administration.

Commissioner Lucie La Bont said the county should lower its experience requirement from the current five years down to two years. Swartz agreed that five years is restrictive.

Pace said it would be desirable to find a registered nurse, but Swartz said many good candidates wouldn't be registered nurses.

Schafer said the position would have to be reviewed by the county's new salary committee.

Floyd said she thought the state would require that an interim director be named.

She said she would try to complete the transition schedules in the next month.

"People know what they need to do," she said of her employees. "This is a team that functions very well."

In her resignation announcement, Floyd pointed to several services that she and her team developed.

She was particularly proud of home visit programs like Babies First, CaCoon, and Maternity Case Management.

Floyd said her department was also recently selected to lead the Curry County Healthy Start program.

She said the county has seen a decline in child abuse since the home visit programs began.

Floyd also said her efforts to prevent teen pregnancy have paid off with falling teen pregnancy rates.

She said Curry County was one of the leaders in implementing the Students Today Aren't Ready for Sex program.

Her department also launched the Baby Think it Over program, and brought an AmeriCorps volunteer to the county to help with teen pregnancy prevention.

She said the family-planning program was also expanded to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Floyd said her department also took on the Women's, Infants and Children's nutrition program, as well as the Environmental Health program.

She said health education programs to prevent diabetes and breast and cervical cancer were implemented.

She said Ryan White case management services were offered to HIV-infected residents, while adult and child immunization services were expanded.

Floyd said Public Health worked behind the scenes to investigate and control communicable disease outbreaks.

She said her staff is preparing to use an expected $110,000 bioterrorism grant.

Floyd thanked the people of Curry County for the opportunity to lead public health services for 13 years.

She urged them to support public health efforts in the county, and to support the commissioners as they recruit a new director.