MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - The recent hepatitis outbreak in Mecklenburg County has raised questions by leaders on who should oversee the health department. Currently, the county manager and county commissioners oversee a lot of what happens inside the health department, including naming a health director.
Commissioner Pat Cotham says the time is now to have a professional medical board take over. She believes they could better prepare and handle the department during major medical issues like hepatitis A.
Right now, Cotham believes the public has lost trust with the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
"Well I am sure they have be because we have had several problems," said Commissioner Cotham.
From the brain-eating amoeba in 2016, to the pap smear test results in 2017 and now the hepatitis A scare of 2018. The Mecklenburg County Health Department is under the microscope again.
Commissioner Cotham is worried the health director waited too long to notify the state after learning on Monday that someone with hepatitis a worked at Hardees.
"It bothered me the first night that nothing happened," said Commissioner Cotham. "I just thought it would have been normal as the director of the health department from the biggest county in North Carolina that she should have had on her short list the director of the state health and human services and they could have had a conversation," said Commissioner Cotham.
County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour told me FOX 46 Charlotte via email that he believes the health department has handled the hepatitis a scare just fine.
The department stayed open extra hours Wednesday, vaccinating more than 1,100 people.
"The vaccine is going to be available. We are going to reassess on Sunday evening if there is a need for additional clinics," said Health Director Gibbie Harris.
Commissioner Cotham commends the health director for her efforts, but believes a medical board could regain the publics trust.
"People deserve to have more professionals. I think people would feel better if they knew that. I would feel better as a citizen of Mecklenburg County," said Cotham.
Commissioner Cotham says she has been pushing for a medical board since 2012, but her colleagues so far have not been on board with the idea.