Public Health Workers Leaving Due To Pressure, Threats

Public health workers across the state are leaving their jobs amid the pressures of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the politics surrounding it.

In the nine months since the state had its first documented COVID-19 case, 27 county health officials have left their jobs.

Some retired, but others resigned or were fired, the Kansas News Service reported.

That number includes 15 county health department administrators and 18 health officers, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Six of those leaving held both positions.

Nick Baldetti, who resigned as director of the Reno County Health Department in July, said he likely would have stayed to see the department through the pandemic if not for the 80-hour work weeks, the hostile political environment, and the threats to his family.

Doctor Lee Norman, who oversees the public health system as secretary of state health department, was recently assigned a security detail.

He called the departure of so many frontline workers “disheartening, and cause for concern.”