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City health department under investigation

Marietta City Law Director Paul Bertram recently confirmed ongoing investigations both by the state and by Marietta and Belpre city administrations into the joint municipal health department.

In Washington County, two health departments operate separately, with the county health department covering the villages and townships (jurisdictionally) but not exerting jurisdiction over the county’s two cities, Marietta and Belpre.

Marietta and Belpre combined health departments into a joint municipal health district in 2018.

In the last month, turnover that was a growing pattern over the past year with exits of nursing and administrative staff throughout 2020 also saw the retirement and then rehire of staff, removal of a director of nursing, and the immediate effectiveness of the resignation of the health commissioner (Anne Goon) after unclear answers and public discussion from the Marietta-Belpre Board of Health.

“Because there is an ongoing investigation into the health department and because there is a (State Employee Relations Board) action, we will only announce after the 24th of March,” Bertram explained of Marietta Mayor Josh Schlicher’s refusals to respond to press questions following the board’s appointment of Schlicher to speak publicly as a spokesperson for the joint health district.

Bertram said the SERB action is concerning the removal of the city’s director of nursing, and that separate from that employment action the two city administrations, including both Marietta and Belpre’s mayors and the board, there is an investigation into the health department’s actions and inaction as a whole concerning coronavirus vaccinations, and other grant programming.

“Both administrations, Belpre, Marietta and the board,” said Bertram.

Bertram said the terms of Goon’s resignation are of public record, but as of press time Monday had not provided such documentation that had been requested in February following Goon’s exit.

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