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To the editor:
As a former member of the Anderson County Board of Health and a current resident of Anderson County, I have followed the current controversy involving the Anderson County Board of Health, the new health department building and the invectives directed at director Brandon Hurley and board Chairman Dr. Andy Bustin.
Dr. Bustin and I were appointed to the Anderson County Board of Health at the same time. Dr. Bustin reluctantly agreed to serve as chairman during my tenure. I was on the board and supported the hiring of Brandon Hurley. I found him to be an intelligent, well-trained and honest candidate and subsequently, he proved to be an excellent director during my tenure.
Dr. Bustin served as chairman with a passion for doing what was right for the residents of Anderson County and was always more than willing to listen to all sides of an issue.
When I joined the board, the issue of a new building had been an ongoing topic of discussion for years. The old building was cramped and not amenable to cost effective expansion secondary to its downtown location. During my tenure many options were explored as to how best serve the health care needs of Anderson County while at the same time avoiding significant tax increases to fund the construction of a new building.
Much of the “reserve” cash mentioned in the recent newspaper article was specifically earmarked for a new health department building.
After two terms on the board I chose not to serve an additional term. This decision was in part due to time constraints. The primary reason for not continuing to serve on the board however was the political bickering that was taking place at the board meetings. The discourse was often loud, disruptive and incapable of reason, much less resolution of the important health care issues affecting Anderson County residents.
The recent front page article and editorial by Mr. Ben Carlson which references the current atmosphere at the Anderson County Board of Health meetings confirms that this fractured political discourse has reached a feverish pitch. This environment will make it extremely difficult to find qualified people to serve on the board in the future.
As a child my sister and I benefited greatly from the preventive care provided by the Greenup County Health Department. My family was economically poor and regular doctor visits were too expensive.
Many residents of Anderson County depend on the health department to provide services for them and their family members which they cannot afford.
All residents of Anderson County benefit from the many services provided by the health department to include food service ratings, sewer and water safety regulations, preventive health measures, disaster planning, etc. The Anderson County Health Department cannot function properly for the residents it serves if its decisions are based on politics and the opinions of the loudest voices.
I hope that the people of Anderson County will wisely and compassionately contemplate the consequences of allowing the Anderson County Board of Health and the Anderson County Health Department to become pawns in the current political storm that is forming.
This is not an issue of political correctness but rather an issue of what is best for the residents of Anderson County.
Do the residents of Anderson County want an intelligent, compassionate and reasonable resolution of this issue or is political expediency the rule of the day?
Steven R. Vallance, M.D.