WORTHINGTON -- Four months after Nobles County commissioners began eyeing a potential public health department merger -- a move that would result in the elimination of the agency's director -- Brad Meyer has submitted his resignation.
Meyer, who was hired by Sanford Visiting Nurses Association nearly four years ago to serve as administrator of Nobles-Rock Community Health Services, will end his tenure with the agency on Dec. 22. He has accepted a position as CEO of a health center in northwest Iowa.
"My position I knew would be eliminated at the end of 2011," said Meyer on Monday. "With this job economy, I wanted to try to find something sooner rather than later."
Meyer said the fate of his position with NRCHS has been a subject of conversation for the last three years, as commissioners in both Nobles and Rock counties worried they wouldn't be able to sustain a public health department with state budget cuts. This fall, Rock County opted to terminate its joint powers with Nobles County for public health services, effective Dec. 31, 2011.
At that point, Rock County will merge with Lincoln-Lyon-Murray-Pipestone (LLMP) Public Health. Nobles County, while it briefly considered following Rock County's footsteps, continues to research the possibility of merging public health with human services as a single county agency. NRCHS board chairwoman Karen Pfeifer said the county never solicitated an opinion from the NRCHS board about the fate of the agency.
Meyer said both the option to merge with LLMP and the human services merger option would have resulted in his position being eliminated. If the county continues its move toward a public health and human services collaboration, the human services director would oversee both agencies.
"Never was there any chance that my position was going to be funded," Meyer said.
Bob Jarchow, a Rock County commissioner who serves on the NRCHS board, said he was not surprised by Meyer's resignation in light of the discussions surrounding the director's position.
"I think Brad did a commendable job for the situation that he was put under," Jarchow said.
Pfeifer also commended Meyer on his work leading the agency.
"We were happy with Brad," she said. "He has demonstrated he's a skilled manager and has many talents to bring to a CEO or managerial position, and we want the best for him. He served our agency and the citizens of Nobles and Rock counties admirably, and we wish him the best."
Since learning of the resignation, Pfeifer has attempted to contact fellow NRCHS board members to discuss a plan for the future. The board doesn't have a scheduled meeting until Dec. 15.
With just one year left of the joint powers agreement between Rock and Nobles for public health services, both Pfeifer and Jarchow said they didn't think a new director would be hired. NRCHS is under contract with SVNA for director services through the end of 2011.
"I'm certainly of the opinon that it would be best to ... approve an early-out of that contract, which I'm quite certain would be agreeable by Sanford," said Pfeifer.
Rather than bring someone in to fill the role temporarily, the agency will likely utilize the team leader approach that was established prior to Meyer's arrival.
"I'm of the hope that the health board will rely on the existing staff that has demonstrated very commendable supervisory skills," Pfeifer said. "Through their efforts, we'll get through next year and whatever transition comes. I think we have a really good staff, and we have great confidence in them."
"I just favor going with a team approach until Nobles County decides what they're going to do," added Jarchow. "Personally, I don't care what they do. For Rock County, we know where we're going -- we're going to Lincoln-Lyon-Murray-Pipestone."
Jarchow said the most important thing is for the agency to maintain its stream of services through the next year.
"I just want to see services continue and be uninterrupted," he said. "We've been through this before and we've survived, although it was not easy."
Meyer said three supervisors will oversee the day-to-day activities with Pfeifer "signing off on things that need to be done."
Though Meyer did not want to say specifically where his new job is, it is also outside the Sanford organization.
"I have enjoyed my stint with the agency and the community," said Meyer. "This is a great community to live and work in, and I have enjoyed my time here."