Nemaha County Health Officer resigns

In a letter to Nemaha County Commissioners dated Aug. 13, 2021, Nemaha County Health Officer Jane Sunderland submitted her resignation. Sunderland has served as county health officer and administrator of Nemaha County Community Health Services, Inc. (NCCH) for the past 17 years. Her resignation is effective Aug. 31.

“I greatly appreciate and value the hard work from our NCCHS staff members in response to this pandemic,” Sunderland said. “Thank you also to those who have offered words of encouragement and support of public health.”

“Jane has served well for the last 17 years as the administrator of our agency,” said Martin Mishler, president of the board of directors for NCCHS. “Her job performance over the last 18 months of the pandemic has been exemplary. She has worked countless hours beyond any expectation we had for her in an effort to serve Nemaha County well as the public health officer. Those hours and the emotional toll of the public health officer position have led to her resignation.”

Mishler said with Sunderland’s resignation, the NCCHS board has withdrawn its contract offer to the Nemaha County Commission.

Contract

In June, the NCCHS board submitted a contract offer to the county commissioners for July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.

The contract, which has been the same for a number of years, sets out an agreement between NCCHS and Nemaha County the responsibilities of the public health officer. Some responsibilities outlined in the contract include communicable disease control, disaster planning, health education and risk reduction, personal health services, adult health services and environmental services. Through this contract, all of these services are provided with Nemaha County’s financial support. The new contract between Nemaha County and NCCHS would have provided a total of $99,200 in funding.

“I do not anticipate that NCCHS will seek another contract with the county,” Mishler said. “At this point, we are returning the responsibility for public health to the county commissioners, which is where that duty lies by Kansas statute. We do not have anyone employed in our agency who could fill that position. We do not plan to attempt to hire anyone to fill that, either.”

NCCHS will continue to provide public health services, such as immunizations, but without the county’s financial support.

County Health Officer

By Kansas statute, the County Health Officer is appointed by the county commissioners. This person can be a registered nurse, with a Kansas doctor supervising.

At this time, the Nemaha County Commissioners are looking at options for Sunderland’s replacement.

“We reluctantly accepted her resignation letter and wish her all the best,” said Chairman Gary Scoby. “Jane did a remarkable job under difficult circumstances these recent months.”

Editor’s Note: As of the Herald’s press date, NCCHS is currently in discussion with the Nemaha County commissioners to continue to help fund the provision of health services to the county, with the exception of the public health officer duties. Those public health officer duties, which include infectious disease investigation and control, will be fulfilled by the appointee of the county.

 

Krista Wasinger10 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism.

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