FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As plans were made for the retirement of Allen County’s long-time health commissioner, Dr. Deb McMahan, it was unknown her exit would line up with a global pandemic. Adding to the stress level, the health department has started looking for approval to split the full-time role into two part-time positions.
Department of Health Administrator Mindy Waldron appeared in front of the Allen County Council Thursday, getting approval of a plan to change the health commissioner’s pay from a full-time salary of $164,000 to a range of $40,000 to $60,000 for a part time position.
According to Waldron, the new commissioner would continue to handle ‘high level type of activities,’ serving as the official director of the department.
A second part-time position, a public health clinical physician, would be created for a doctor who would handle the clinical side of the role, seeing patients if needed. Council approved a plan to pay that person $150 per hour.
The plan to split the role follows the route other health departments across the state have taken.
Waldron told council that the task to replace Dr. McMahan, especially at this time has been a tough one with few applicants to select from.
“When you’re looking to replace any position and you do it in the midst of a global pandemic… and that the information being sought from a position like a health commissioner or health officer in a county is at its all-time highest, and in a pressure cooker, it is probably the hardest time to attract folks to a position like that,” Waldron told WANE 15. “That has been a difficult thing that we now have to face.”
A hiring committee, mainly made up by the department’s executive board, has put been together to consider possible candidates, who would eventually need approval from county commissioners before being hired in the proposed roles.
Waldron stressed the difficulty that comes with replacing the passion Dr. McMahan has had over 20 years in the department.
“We look for the characteristics of what she’s brought to the table, people that bring the skill sets that can do similar things,” Waldron explained. “But she’s one of a kind. Her passion was without worry for what it was paid. Her passion was to make things better.”
Dr. McMahan’s retirement has been set to start on June 5. She may continue in a small role around the department of health where help is needed.