The agenda item at Thursday’s Southern Nevada District Board of Health meeting called for consideration of the “character, alleged misconduct or professional competence” of Dr. Lawrence Sands.
But shortly after the meeting started, the item was removed. Sands’ character instead received a major boost as, one by one, past and present public health officials lauded his efforts during the hepatitis C probe as well as on other public health issues.
A similar item to consider the actions of the health district’s human resources administrator, Angus McEachern, was similarly pulled.
Meanwhile, some board members apologized for a meeting they felt could have been avoided and involved personnel issues.
“What is the most important public health issue? In my opinion it is hepatitis C,” board member Steven Kirk said after initiating a motion to remove the discussion item from the agenda. “We can’t have our chief health officer taking his eyes off the ball.”
Kirk also personally apologized to Sands for having to hire an attorney for Thursday’s meeting.
Chris Giunchigliani, chair of the health district’s board, never specifically said why she put the agenda items concerning Sands and McEachern up for discussion. But she said she called the meeting after some board members expressed concerns about the firing of the district’s environmental health director, Glenn Savage.
Giunchigliani said there were concerns that Savage’s termination was in retaliation for work-related comments he made during the public comment period of last month’s board meeting. The reason for the meeting, Giunchigliani told board members Thursday, was to dispel fears district employees might have about bringing up concerns during the public comment portion of meetings.
“We need to recognize that a message was sent that wasn’t this board’s message,” she said.
She acknowledged earlier in the week that the language in the item “sounds worse than it is.”
Savage was recently reinstated and attended Thursday’s meeting.
Dr. Joe Hardy, a board member, said his “angst is when we start dipping down into what is not our purview.”
Hardy said there needs to be better communication all around, especially to raise morale among health district employees.