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Board to interview health officer applicant

by MATT BALDWIN
Daily Inter Lake | April 18, 2022 3:00 PM

The Flathead City-County Board of Health is slated to interview Tuesday the lone candidate for the health department’s soon-to-be-vacant health officer position.

Applicant Michael Chambers has been the administrator for the Macon County Health Department in Missouri since 2015, according to information provided by the Flathead County Health Department.

Prior to that, he was operations manager for Samaritan Hospital in Macon, Missouri from 2004-2015, and was environmental services supervisor for North Kansas City Hospital in Missouri from 2001-2004.

Chambers has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and health care management. 

The board of health will meet with Chambers Tuesday, April 19, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the conference room in the county’s South Campus Building in Kalispell. The meeting is open to the public, both in-person and by video conference.

IN DECEMBER 2021, current Flathead County Interim Health Officer Joe Russell renewed his contract through June 30. Russell, who was at the helm of the department from 1998 until his retirement in 2017, initially agreed to a one-year contract in December 2020 to help the county through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The county has been looking for a permanent health officer for more than two years after former health officer Hillary Hanson, who replaced Russell, and former interim health officer Tamalee St. James Robinson both resigned.

Chambers is the first applicant to make it to the public interview process.

The salary for the health officer position — currently listed at $125,000, plus benefits and an additional $12,500 to cover moving expenses — has been cited as one reason for the lack of applicants.

According to the county’s job posting, the health officer is tasked with “administrative, supervisory, consultative and professional public health duties for the administration, organization and maintenance of the county health department.”

The health officer reports to the county commissioners and the board of health.

Montana law requires that a health officer holds a master’s in public health, be a physician or have equivalent experience and education.

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