Search continuing for new director of East Central Health Disctrict

Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014 3:36 PM
Last updated 8:02 PM
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Ketty Gonzalez is the new Easy Central Health District director. She sits in her Augusta office during an interview, in which she discussed addressing the root of health problems. KENDRICK BRINSON/STAFF  Kendrick Brinson
Kendrick Brinson
Ketty Gonzalez is the new Easy Central Health District director. She sits in her Augusta office during an interview, in which she discussed addressing the root of health problems. KENDRICK BRINSON/STAFF

At least one applicant was to be interviewed today to become the next director of the East Central Health District headquartered in Augusta, the acting director said Tuesday night.

During a meeting of the Richmond County Board of Health, acting director Dr. Diane Weems, who is director of the Coastal Health District in Savannah, said an applicant who had been screened and appeared promising would be interviewed in Atlanta by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

One candidate had been screened but dropped, but another applicant had also turned up, she said. Both are from the Augusta area “so it’s not like we are going to have to bring someone in from California,” Weems said. “Both look very good on paper and I think are going to be very suitable for the board to look at.”

The process of recruiting is still open and others might apply even as candidates are being interviewed, she said.

“We just want to keep looking, but we don’t want to lose a good candidate,” Weems said.

The hope was to have the boards of health of the 13 counties consider and rank the candidates early next month but it is unclear if that is still realistic, she said.

Because it is a kind of “hybrid position” that is accountable to both the county boards and to the state department, the boards will vote on the candidates but the position will actually be appointed by the commissioner, Weems said. The state is OK with taking time to do it right, said spokeswoman Nancy Nydam.

“The most important part is to find the right person, the right fit for the job,” she said. “Certainly, we want to get it filled as soon as we can.”

Dr. Ketty Gonzalez chose to retire last month instead of returning from a three-month leave of absence, officials said. Gonzalez had served as district director since 2007 after retiring from the Atlanta office of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. Her career began in public health in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, and she had also served as a consultant to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service Region 4 in Atlanta.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213


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