No written records exist in suspension of Primary Care Center leader

Primary Care chief later reinstated

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2011 

When Dr. Melinda Rowe, then health commissioner of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, suspended William North, it set in motion a series of emergency public meetings that ultimately led to Rowe's resignation.

But since those meetings last month, health department officials have declined to say exactly when or why North, who makes $100,000 a year and has been executive director of the Primary Care Center since August, was suspended with pay.

Under the state's Open Records Act, the Herald-Leader recently asked for a copy of any notice of suspension that North had received.

Ted Martin, an attorney for the Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health, said Friday there was no written record of North's suspension. That goes against a 20-page discipline plan approved by Rowe in 2007.

That plan requires a multistep process that includes informal corrective counseling, formal counseling, admonishment and reprimand before anyone is suspended.

According to its minutes, the Board of Health went into executive session to discuss "the potential discipline and dismissal of Mr. William North" on Feb. 14. No public action was taken.

An eight-member joint committee of the Board of Health and the board of the Primary Care Center, which provides medical care to the poor, held a closed meeting to hear from employees about North on Feb. 23. He was reinstated Feb. 24. A petition in support of North had been signed by nearly every member of the Primary Care staff.

--mary meehan

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