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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Vote signals continuation of health department services

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Amanda Snyder helps distributes free items for infants and toddlers at the Linn County Health Department's baby shower last fall. Snyder will take on administrative duties for the department under a new plan that splits the role of the director. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

MOUND CITY – On Monday, April 3, the Linn County commissioners made a decision on the future of the Linn County Health Department. Commissioners unanimously approved changing the job descriptions of Amanda Snyder and Danielle Casey to include extra responsibilities from the previous director’s position.

The commission has been discussing whether to hire a new director after the departure of former director Missy LanCaster or divide the job between current staff members. Also at question was whether to advertise these jobs to the public or offer them in-house. Some thought had also been given to joining the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department.

Monday's action was evidence that all three commissioners are in support of continuing the current services that the health department provides. Over the past few months Commissioner Jim Johnson has been critical of the department and has questioned whether the level of service the department provides is necessary.

Snyder last year became administrative assistant to departing health department director. She formerly worked as a coordinator of programs for young children and mothers.

Casey was hired as a registered nurse for the department shortly after LanCaster became director.

On Monday, Casey told the commissioners, “Both Amanda and I are Linn County residents, our kids go to school here, we want to better improve the community. We would be the perfect fit to help improve our health department, promote more activities and be able to do more for our community. We just feel like we can make it thrive. We would be a wonderful fit for it.”

Commission Chair Danny McCullough read a letter from Annie Roberts, the chair of the Health Department Advisory Board.

In the letter Roberts, a Pleasanton resident whose Roberts Family Dental Care practice is in La Cygne, wrote that the health department is a great asset to the county. She wrote that it takes dedicated individuals to work in public health, and it can be a demanding job, as everyone saw during the COVID pandemic.

The advisory board chair asked that the commission take serious consideration to the proposals of Snyder and Casey. The county should listen when two Linn County residents are dedicated to their work and are willing to step up and fulfill administrative roles.

Roberts wrote that, from her point of view, the health department is a frequent topic of the commission and the full purpose of the health department is misunderstood.

The health department is underutilized, and rather than question the volume of patients procedures, the county should focus on sharing what the health department has to offer, Roberts wrote. Public health at its core is not a money-making venture.

What is the purpose of a public service but to serve the public? Roberts asked in her letter. Linn County is unique, and it benefits Linn County that the health department is designed to serve Linn County residents specifically. The needs of Linn County are not the same as other counties in the area.

Underinsured patients can save considerable money at the health department using their services, the letter said.

Last week, health department staff wrote a letter recommending the proposed restructuring of the health department.

In the letter, they stated that they were not in favor of hiring a new administrator but support the proposals from Snyder and Casey to take over the duties of the administrator in their job description. They said that Snyder and Casey had great ideas and goals to continue to help the health department grow.

The staff wrote that, because of the turmoil of hiring, progress the health department has made in the last couple of years is set back. It also lowers the staff morale and makes them feel uneasy about the future of their own positions.

The commissioners approved Amanda Snyder as the Director of the Health Department/Department Head as an exempt employee at the salary of about $50,100 per year. Casey’s job description became Head Nurse at $33.19 per hour. Both positions became effective on April 3.

In May, Snyder and Casey will meet with commissioners to refine any problems with the job descriptions.

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