Liz King proposed to replace Dr. Annette Mercatante as St. Clair County public health officer – The Times Herald

Liz King proposed to replace Dr. Annette Mercatante as St. Clair County public health officer – The Times Herald

A contract to fill one of the two chief health positions split earlier this year by St. Clair County commissioners will go before the board next Thursday — and the candidate may be a familiar face.
Liz King, a registered nurse, is currently the health department’s nursing and community health director.
According to a memo to the board of commissioners from County Administrator Karry Hepting, King was selected as a top candidate for the public health officer role by an interview panel, and her appointment was approved by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The move is part of a months-long process after the county board voted to advertise vacancies for the role, as well as that of the medical director — both of which are currently held in a combined capacity by Dr. Annette Mercatante until her contract ends next month. The splitting of the positions came in the wake of the debate on how a controversial COVID-19 mask order was issued in January.
It wasn’t clear what King’s proposed appointment meant for the medical director role, as that position no longer appeared to be listed among the county’s advertised job vacancies.
After the county board’s committee agendas were posted online on Friday, health department spokeswoman Alyse Nichols said via email, “Until the St. Clair County Health Department health officer and medical director contracts are approved by all necessary parties, we are holding making any public comment at this time.”
Nichols forwarded comment to Hepting, who didn’t immediately reply to a request Friday afternoon.
In mid-April, Hepting said there had been seven applications received for the health officer role and four for the medical director position. The latter remained open at the time, Hepting said, citing the need for candidates who met minimum qualifications.
The medical director role is part-time at 16 hours and requires a doctorate or medical degree, according to its job description, and they must be a licensed physician. A master’s degree in public health is also preferred. Meanwhile, the officer role has the master’s requirement and is full-time.
Candidates for both jobs require approval from the state. According to MDHHS, the minimum for review is two weeks with an average turnaround of 30 days.
Mercatante has previously said she wouldn’t apply for the openings and considered the county board’s decision to advertise her positions to be a termination.
Officials have also said the county would work with the state to ensure there are individuals in place to fill the statutorily required positions, including on an interim basis if necessary, to avoid a shutdown of services.
King’s contract, as proposed for health officer, would begin July 1 and end in June 2025 with an annual salary of $107,090.
It was under the role of health officer authority that a public health order can be issued, in addition to a long list of duties the position holds.
The county board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday in the meeting room on the second floor of the administrative building, 200 Grand Rive Ave., in Port Huron.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or jssmith@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.

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