Werner named interim leader of health department



Shawn Werner is wearing a lot of hats at the Dubois County Health Department.

He is the environmental health specialist that handles septic inspections. He is also the department’s health preparedness director and incident commander for COVID-19 response.

And now, he is stepping up to take the lead reins at the department.

The Dubois County Board of Health appointed him as interim administrative director Monday evening, replacing Jo Ann Spaulding.

County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart sang Werner’s praises and encouraged the board to make him interim director. “He’s the best person to jump in and fill this position,” Waflart said.

Werner will continue with the duties of his environmental position, since he is currently the only one in the department who can. Another person who was being trained to help has left.
Werner may have a lot of job titles, and work that comes with each, but he keeps plugging away to fulfill the duties. “I’ve been managing,” he said after Monday’s meeting. “And I catch up the paperwork when I can find time.”

Another person, Quentin Tharp, has been hired for the environmental department and will start Aug. 3. “So he will be in the process of being trained for my job,” Werner said. While Tharp is in training, he will begin to take over some of Werner’s environmental duties.

The health board approved having Finance Clerk Connie Archer take over some of the administrative work, such as completing timesheets and other tasks, for Werner. “Connie will have more job duties as the financial clerk, to alleviate some of my work as director,” he said. “I will still approve everything, but there will be things that she will prepare for me.”

Werner is a graduate of Northeast Dubois High School and has a degree in environmental health science from Indiana State University. He and his wife, Natalie, have two sons: 10-year-old Eli and 5-year-old Emmett.

Werner joined the health department in 2003, under former administrative director Donna Oeding. “I started this position right out of college,” he said. “Donna gave me a chance.”

He enjoys being an environmental specialist and loves working out in the field. “That’s probably my favorite part, going out and meeting homeowners and septic installers,” Werner said.

When asked by the health board, Werner said he is willing to consider moving into the director position permanently. Board of Health Chairman Dr. Jennifer Richardson said she will check with the county’s human resources director and county attorney to see what the steps are for hiring a new director. She told board members that doing so may require some additional meetings.

The reason for Spaulding’s departure was not mentioned. She’d been with the department since November 2018.

Last week, an executive session and a joint meeting of the health board and Dubois County Commissioners were set, but were canceled. Commissioner Chad Blessinger said he isn’t allowed to share details about the meetings. “It was about personnel issues,” he said. That was also stated on the notice about the meetings.

The board thanked Werner for taking on the additional duties as interim administrative director.

“Thank you for stepping up and for helping out as much as you have during this crisis, and even before the crisis,” Richardson said. “That’s what we always try to do,” Werner said, “put the public first and do what’s right.”

The board also:

• Eliminated the director of nursing title. Now, the department’s five nurses will all be at the same level.

• Heard that the immunizations program will soon be boosted to once again have clinics. Those pretty much stopped because of COVID-19. Werner said plans are being developed to increase those, including having outdoor clinics. Last week, the department had success with a trial outdoor clinic, at which people drove up to get their immunizations instead of going into the building.

• Reviewed and approved the health department’s proposed 2020 budget, which will be submitted to the county.

• Approved the 2020 fee schedule which includes a $25 increase in septic permits.

• Set its next regular meeting for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5; the board of health tends to meet once each quarter. If the room is available, the board will meet in the conference room on the first floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex.

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com