Dr. Jacinta Eickholt
Dr. Jacinta Eickholt

PUTNAM COUNTY — During its meeting on Thursday, the Putnam County Board of Health announced that Dr. Jacinta Eickholt has again assumed the responsibilities of the health district’s medical director. Dr. Eickholt temporarily replaces Dr. Mary Ann Myers, who tendered her resignation from the position on Thursday, July 18, and served her last day as medical director on Friday, Aug. 2.

According to Health Commissioner Kim Rieman, Dr. Eickholt has served as the county’s interim medical director for several years, assuming the position when the county is either without a medical director, or the medical director is out of county on business or recreation. Mrs. Rieman further asserted Dr. Eickholt has agreed to remain in the position pending the employment of a permanent replacement.

The board then turned its attention to visitors at the meeting, and opened the floor for comments.

“I have something to say, something to ask, and a statement to make, and I’ll probably make it a multiple question because after the first or second one, I’ll probably be asked to leave,” Ted Homier said. “It’s in regard to (former HomeCare and Hospice Executive Director) Pam Sager, who has resigned.”

Mr. Homier then expressed concern and outrage at what he deemed defamatory comments made by the board and published in the Sentinel. Of particular concern for Mr. Homier was a reference to an investigation given when the board announced its intent to place Mrs. Sager on paid administrative immediately prior to her resignation.

“She had resigned. That’s all the paper needed to know,” Mr. Homier said. “They could have noted all the good that she’d done when she was a part of HomeCare and Hospice. She was a terrific caregiver, as far as I’m concerned, for years.”

Mr. Homier then queried the board as to the nature of the investigation, why that information was made public, and who, specifically, made it so.

“The Sentinel article, along with defamatory information, had some ill-fated, or untrue — I guess our president would say,” and here he turned to those present, asking, “What kind of news?” to which several responded “fake news.” “I guess that’s the answer, the term,” he concluded.

He further chastised the board for creating a situation wherein Mrs. Sager felt compelled to resign, and for failing to “(beg) for her to stay … for all the good she’s done” pending the outcome of the investigation.

“I think it’s pretty sad that didn’t happen,” Mr. Homier said. “And I think that I speak for a lot of the residents of Putnam County.”

Both Board Chair Matthew Herman and Board Member Kyle Stechschulte explained health board meetings are open to the public, and a Sentinel representative was present at the time of the discussions about which Mr. Homier expressed concern. They further asserted the reason or reasons for any investigation were kept confidential, remain confidential, and became moot on Mrs. Sager’s resignation.

“Mrs. Sager made a decision, and the board accepted her decision,” Mr. Herman said.

The discussion continued for several minutes, with Mr. Homier continuing to press the board as to how and why the fact of the investigation was made public, and board members assuring the matter was handled as discretely as possible.

Ultimately, although invited to stay, Mr. Homier, clearly dissatisfied with the explanations provided, left the meeting.

In other business, the board also held further discussions regarding the organizational structure of the district. In keeping with a concensus nearly reached at its last meeting, the board gave tentative approval to a structure placing the board of health at the top, with the health commissioner and medical director immediately below and reporting directly to the board. Beneath those two positions, and reporting directly to them, follow the various departments and employees of both the Putnam County Health Department and Putnam County HomeCare and Hospice.

While in agreement as to the fundamentals of the structure, several critical changes were suggested, and the board opted to delay officially endorsing the chart until its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. at the health department offices.