Shelby County Government begins search for new health director

Shelby County begins search for new health department director

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The search has started for a new Shelby County Health Department director.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris says he’s looking for someone who can lead the health department and meet this unique and challenging moment.

Harris announced Monday that the search for a new health department director had started.

Related | Director of Shelby County Health Dept. resigns amid investigation into vaccine mismanagement

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“We are looking for a leader who meets the moment and who can lead at a time when public health is at the forefront of every conversation. The next health director will lead the Shelby Health County Health Department through the adoption of best practices, fix areas that are broken, and communicate across our diverse and vibrant community,” Harris said. “In this global pandemic, we have an opportunity to put in place a person who can pull us all toward shared responsibility—wear a mask, socially distance, and wash your hands. Finally, the new director will work collaboratively with partners at the local, state, and federal level and lead on public health issues in one of the best communities in the United States.”

The mayor said the county will contract with executive search firm Protis Global to conduct a nationwide search for the new director.

It comes days after Harris announced that Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter had submitted her resignation after 2,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were allowed to expire.

Related | Timeline of Shelby County vaccine concerns

County, state and federal investigators are each looking into how the Shelby County Health Department let the vaccines expire.

”I do bear responsibility as one of the leaders in this community,” Harri said. 

Harris says the county is working to figure out where things went wrong and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

On Friday, he announced Haushalter had submitted her resignation.

Shelby Co. Health Dept. director resigning

The work begins now to find a new health department director.

The state released a timeline detailing its findings and said they plan to hold another briefing Tuesday. Harris says the internal investigation the county is conducting continues.

Federal investigators have been tight-lipped.

The CDC said it’s aware of the Shelby County incident and says a representative is coming to Shelby County to make sure vaccines are being used efficiently.

As for the possibility that some expired vaccines could’ve been administered to people the county’s chief administrative officer Dwane Gilliom says they don’t have any reason to suspect that occurred.

Baptist Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Steve Threlkeld said while a lot remains unknown, he believes the main concern would be the efficacy of the expired vaccine.

State investigating potentially expired vaccines

”The only issue would be if one did receive a vaccine that was a bit expired, could the effectiveness of that vaccine have waned a bit after that expiration date?” said Threlkeld. “People will be looking at that and if necessary, obviously, will arrange for vaccination to replace that.”

There are also two other issues investigators are looking into, including possible theft of vaccines from the Pipkin vaccination site and children being given vaccines at the Appling site.

Investigation uncovers possible vaccine theft, children getting vaccine

Harris is expected to name an interim health department director this week.

Haushalter’s last day at the office will be March 15.

Anyone interested in the job can view the job description and apply at tn-shelbycounty.civicplushrms.com/careers/.

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