Mecklenburg Health Department at odds over hiring, lack of diversity claims

- An audit of the Mecklenburg Health Department is causing some disagreement between county commissioners about the lack of diversity.

The audit all stems from the mishaps with the Pap smear test and then patient’s records being accidentally released.

As the commissioners learned about the companies in charge of correcting problems within the health department – that debate about race became an issue.

Frustrations Tuesday afternoon as some groups hired to improve how the Mecklenburg County Health Department is run don’t have any black members.

“I’m upset about the team. Why didn’t they try to bring somebody in from Atlanta who they know they will have the experience with minorities and black people. That’s who comes over there. There’s only two sites,” Commissioner Vilma Leake said.

Leake was specifically speaking about county hired Navigant and Praxis Partners. Aside from her concerns about those two companies not mirroring the patients of the health department, she felt Commissioner Bill James wasn’t taking her claims seriously enough.

“For Bill James to give some level of disrespect, I have a problem with him,” she said.

James on the other hand doesn’t believe that’s an issue saying if Commissioner Leake had this concern she shouldn’t brought it up when the board voted.

“She actually voted for these companies. You’d think if she had a problem with those companies at the time because there wasn’t enough diversity she would’ve raised her hand and say ‘I’m not voting for this,’” James said.

He went on to add he feels they will do a better job addressing race when it comes to who patients see.

As for the health department, they hope this process will bring back public trust.

“We are sorry about what happened. I believe in the staff at the health department and I think they do a very good job; they want to get through this just as much as anyone else does. They want to make these improvements.”

The health director also added over the 185 women not notified of abnormal Pap smears none have cancer.

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