HealthFirst Executive Director North to face evaluation 2 1/2 years after mandate

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comJuly 5, 2013 

Two and a half years after the federal government mandated that the board of HealthFirst Bluegrass evaluate the performance of Executive Director William North, the review is scheduled for July.

Board Chairman Thomas Lester declined to say why the review wasn't completed earlier. North said HealthFirst does not comment on personnel matters. According to records obtained by the Herald-Leader through an Open Records Request, North makes $100,000.

The board approved evaluating North at its June meeting. During North's tenure, HealthFirst has struggled to spend an $11.7 million federal grant to build a new facility, and the land deal that brought the clinic location to Southland Drive is currently under investigation by Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen.

North said the Health Resources Service Administration had required the evaluation during a December 2010 review of the $11.7 million federal grant HealthFirst was awarded to build a public health clinic.

On May 20, the Herald-Leader requested copies of North's performance evaluations as part of an Open Records Request. The only performance review that was produced was an evaluation signed by Lexington-Fayette County Health Commissioner Dr. Rice Leach. That evaluation, dated May 3, 2012, included a note from Leach that said "this evaluation is meaningless because at no time during the rating period did I serve as his supervisor." Health department spokesman Kevin Hall said Leach completed the evaluation in order to comply with internal human resources requirements for the health department which once operated in tandem with HealthFirst but are now separate entities.

North reports to the HealthFirst Board and the board is responsible for his evaluations.

HealthFirst operates a non-profit clinic that is funded primarily by tax dollars. It received the $11.7 million federal grant as part of the Affordable Care Act in September 2010, but has yet to begin construction. A new clinic is planned for 496 Southland Drive.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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