Environmental Specialist Shawn Werner will be leading the Dubois County Health Department as the interim administrative director.
Along with his duties as the department’s septic system inspector and home inspector, he has been serving as the co-incident commander for the county’s Covid-19 response and is the department’s health preparedness director. With current administrative director Jo Ann Spaulding stepping down from her position — this is her last week on the job, Werner will continue leading the county’s response to the pandemic.
Werner, a graduate of Northeast Dubois, has worked for the department for nearly 18 years. He joined the health department immediately after graduating from Indiana State University with a bachelor’s in environmental health.
Spaulding was hired in November 2018 to lead the department. While no reason was given for her stepping down, the Dubois County Board of Health was enthusiastic about Werner’s continued leadership in the department.
“Shawn has been the co-incident commander during this crisis and has done a great job,” County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflert said during the meeting, “From my standpoint he is the best person to fill in this position.”
During the meeting held Monday evening, the board asked Werner if he would like to take the position on full-time. He said he would but in doing so, he wanted to continue to be able to work in the field. “That is probably one of my favorite parts about the job; going out and meeting with residents,” he said after the meeting.
The board didn’t approve appointing him as the next administrative director but instead, plan to ensure the proper hiring process is followed. They will request input from County Attorney Greg Schnarr and the county human resources before deciding whether to offer the job to Werner.
The board plans on moving forward on the decision quickly, though.
Werner will continue covering his environmental specialist duties while leading the ten-person department.
The health department is leading the response to the pandemic and when a vaccine becomes available, they will be the coordinating organization for administering it to the public.
According to Werner, though the department’s work with the pandemic has slowed down recently, when things were busy, they were working 13 to 15 hours a day.
Along with appointing Werner as interim director, the board approved reclassifying the director of nursing as a regular nurse and doing away with the position.
They also discussed the financial impact the pandemic has had on the department. The health department is funded through county funding, grants, vaccinations and licensing fees. Through the pandemic, the department has seen a drop in vaccinations and plans on pushing those out in the coming year to make up for the loss.
Werner told the board a drive-thru vaccination event went well recently and the department could adopt that to streamline the vaccination process through the pandemic.
The board also approved increasing septic fees by $25 for installers and homeowners. Those fees are now $150 for a homeowner permit and $125 for an installer. The fees haven’t been raised since 2017.