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Pender Health Department again at center of political controversy

READ MORE: Pender Health Department again at center of political controversy
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- The Health Department in Pender County is sparking tensions among county commissioners. Both the Health Board and Health Department have had issues in the past. This time questions about the board brought a heated exchange at a County Commission meeting.

"Things seem like they should be getting better, but there are some things that are still there that we need to address and take a closer look at," Commissioner Chester Ward said.

The Pender County Health Department is once again in the spotlight. County commissioners questioned Commission chair and Health Board member George Brown Monday about the appointment process for Health Board members.

"There was frustration on my part that one of the commissioners did not seem to remember what had happened with that application," Brown said.

The Health Department, which is supposed to be a service to the county, continues to be a political issue for commissioners despite new leadership in the department.

"I really don't know why this changed all of a sudden," Pender County Health Director Carolyn Moser said. "I feel like since I've been here that we really have moved forward in a very positive way."

As other commissioners raise questions about the application process, they remember past problems within the department and think maybe Brown should not be part of that board at all.

"Maybe he needs to reevaluate his role there," Ward said. "Maybe there's still some emotional tension still there."

Pender County Commissioners also tabled a request monday from the Health Department to unfreeze two positions.

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Pender Commissioner's Meeting

Mr. Brown is never wrong! Someone else is always at fault. Brown’s protagonists simply don’t understand; are not smart enough to understand the problem; did not listen to the discussion; just want “face time” on TV. Does this behavior remind you of an important national politician who always shifts the blame for every problem in the country to others? Even when the deputy clerk to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) was forced to acknowledge that a very qualified applicant for the Board of Health was not able to have her application reviewed by the entire board of commissioners because the application was left out of the commissioners pre-meeting packages. Mr. Brown, raising his decibel level began to brown beat the two commissioners who wanted the process to be fair, and include all the commissioners. In truth, Mr. Brown did not want the lady on the board of health because she had opposed his takeover of the health department in 2010.
Brown simply doubled down, verbally attacked Mr. Tate and Mr. Ward, and insisted that the commissioners actually reviewed the application and approved the rejection. Mr. Ward said that all commissioners should have an opportunity to review any request to any board before approval or rejection of the applicant. How long can Brown go on with his bully and intimidating tactics to get his way? Brown has done great damage to the health department since 2010 and is singularly responsible for terminating the school dental program; diminishing the primary dental program; terminating the only permanent dentist remaining with the health department; killing completely the pediatric care program supported by a Board Certified pediatrician; killing completely the internal medicine program supported by a Board Certified Internal Medicine specialist. In creating this havoc within the health department, Brown has also depressed morale of the staff and created a budget shortfall with the loss of the only revenue producing programs, i.e., physician provided pediatrics and internal medicine. Recall anyone?

Pender County Health Director comments

I was somewhat surprised at a quote by the new Pender County Health Director when commenting on the “troubles” in Pender County said the following: "I really don't know why this changed all of a sudden," "I feel like since I've been here that we really have moved forward in a very positive way." Here are the facts: 1. the dental program has been totally decimated and is losing revenue. The health department recently closed the mobile dental clinic and terminated the school dentist (who also worked in the primary clinic). There is now no permanent dentist in the health department with two months left in the fiscal year; 2. The Board Certified Pediatrician is no longer at the department to treat children (resulting in a loss of clinic patients to the medical clinics); 3. The Board Certified Internal Medicine specialist is no longer working at the department leading to the loss of necessary access to care for many elderly poor adults in western Pender County; 4. The Environmental Health Program has not met the 100% requirement for food handling inspections this fiscal year and this will possibly result in loss of revenue from the state; and 5. The Environmental Health Program is months behind requests for septic lot evaluations and contractors are apparently becoming increasingly angry. Given these obvious failures one might ask the director to delineate the markers of improvement she felt the health department has made.

Pender Commissioners Meeting

Mr. Brown simply sees the truth as it benefits him. When Commissioner Tate, supported by Commissioner Ward, said that he had not had the opportunity to review the board of health member applicant, Brown simply tried to bully him quiet, insisting that the applicant’s information had been in the commissioners pre-meeting packages and implying that Tate and Ward were simply lax in their responsibility. Tate was quoted as saying “You are not going to blame me,” and then he asked the deputy clerk to the board of commissioners if the application had been in the commissioners pre-meeting packages. After two requests from Tate, the Deputy Clerk said that the application was not in the package. Brown simply did not want the applicant, a former health educator with the health department, on the Board of Health because she did not agree with Brown’s management of the health department. The shame for the people of Pender County is that they have apparently elected a liar to the highest elected office in Pender County.
For the sake of the people who depend on health department services Brown needs to be removed from his Board of Health position, and frankly, if he will lie in public the way he did, he needs to be removed from the Board of County Commissioners.