Nevada County appointed a new temporary Public Health Officer while officials mull a permanent replacement and the structure of the department.
Dr. Kenneth Cutler was named as the temporary public health officer, signing a contract that stipulates Cutler will dedicate at least 20 hours a week to the county for an amount not to exceed $126,000, effective Jan. 1, 2013.
The public health officer plays a critical role in public safety, said Jeffrey Brown, director of the Health and Human Services Agency who oversees the county Public Health Department.
“The public health officer is responsible for communicable disease control, emergency preparedness,” Brown said.
“That person is the lead official in determining how a potential outbreak is handled.”
The previous public health officer was Dr. Karen Milman, who also functioned as the director of Public Health. Nevada County’s public health director draws an annual salary of about $164,000, according to the county website.
The county will look at possible restructuring of the Public Health department, said County Executive Officer Rick Haffey.
Whether Milman’s permanent replacement will function as both the director of the department — which entails crafting a budget, overseeing employees, formulating prevention initiatives and helping with education and outreach — and the public health officer, which is responsible for overarching medical issues in the county, is yet to be determined, Haffey said.
Cutler worked for Nevada County in a similar capacity in 2003 and 2004, Brown said, and then again in 2008, prior to Milman assuming the directorship.
“I have worked with Dr. Cutler before and he performed excellently and the county is fortunate to have him filling in,” he said.
Cutler currently works on a part-time basis for Sierra and Trinity counties, but Brown is not worried his other responsibilities will interfere with the county position.
“He works one day a week for Sierra County and about once a month for Trinity,” Brown said.
The permanent replacement will likely be identified within the next 90 to 120 days, Brown said.
Milman left her Nevada County post to accept a position as the prevention division director at the Seattle and King County Public Health Department in Washington state.
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