Pella Chronicle

November 9, 2012

Supervisors directed to bring concerns to Health Board

By Steve Woodhouse
The Chronicle

Pella — Marion County Public Health Director Kim Dorn was seeking resolution to an ongoing issue of tension between herself and Supervisors Jim Kingery and Craig Agan. At a Public Health Board meeting Monday afternoon, she may have received it.

The supervisors were directed to forward any concerns/issues brought to them by the public, onto the Public Health Board and not Dorn. Dorn drafted a letter to the Public Health Board prior to Monday's meeting, in which she expressed her feelings that she had been the subject of “harassing” treatment by Agan and Kingery.

“I feel like they are working to do me professional harm,” Dorn said at the meeting.

Agan, who represents the supervisors on the Public Health Board, also drafted a letter. In it, he denies claims made by Dorn and indicates that the concerns he has raised have come from citizens.

“I share the concerns that have come to me numerous times from citizens of Marion County in regard to red flags that have been raised over the Marion County Health Department because of high employee turnover, layoffs and budget questions. I will continue to ask what I feel are reasonable questions to find the root of these issues,” Agan wrote.

“There just seems to be ongoing concern,” Dorn said at the meeting, “but there's never been specificity.”

Dorn asked Agan for specifics in the open meeting. She said she wanted to know what exactly was wrong so she knew what to try to change. Agan believes the community does not hold the Public Health Department in high regard.

“If there's a perception we're less than we should be, we need to address that,” Pat Stockton, Chair of the Public Health Board, said.

Dorn also accused Agan and Kingery of contacting staff to create unrest. Following the September Public Health Board meeting, Kingery was asked to leave the building.

Dorn told the Public Health Board that she would like to ensure that decisions are based upon what is best for the people of Marion County, and her department, not out of personal feelings.

Concern was expressed by Dorn regarding compliance with the Open Meetings Law. At the last Public Health Board meeting, her performance evaluation was conducted. She had not requested a closed session before the meeting. During the September meeting, Agan pressed for the Board to go into closed session for approximately 10 minutes. At that point, she did request a closed session. This likely clears the Public Health Board of any Open Meetings Law violation.

Stockton asked Agan if he felt investigating employee complaints is the Board of Supervisors' responsibility. Agan said he feels it is his job to follow the taxpayer money that flows into Public Health, to ensure that it is properly spent.

Dorn said a significant portion of Public Health funding comes from grants. Grants have to be written for a specific purpose, and the money cannot be used in different areas, even if a need exists. The Public Health Department performs a needs assessment every year to determine which areas require more attention or funding.

“We have to follow the money,” Dorn said.

Other Public Health Board notes:

• Approved the Public Health year-end report for 2012. Look for more on that next week.

• Received an updated participant grievance policy.

• Discussed the Board of Health terms. The Marion County Board of Supervisors appoints the members of the Public Health Board, per Iowa Code. This board is also subject to gender equity rules that recently came into law.