Interim health officer named

Dr. Howard Leibrand is the third health officer in Island County in a month.

Island County will be sharing a health officer with a neighboring county for awhile.

Last Friday, the Island County Board of Health named Skagit County Health Officer Dr. Howard Leibrand as the interim health officer.

In a meeting just before, the Board of County Commissioners approved a six-month contract with Leibrand at a rate of $175 an hour. The contact is not to exceed $39,750.

Under county code, the Board of County Commissioners is responsible for setting the salary of the health officer while the Board of Health appoints the person to the position.

Public Health Director Keith Higman told the commissioners that they could either contract with Leibrand or hire him as an employee.

The commissioners elected to contract with the doctor, which requires him to get liability insurance; the county will reimburse him for the expense.

Under state law, a health officer is a medical doctor with a wide range of powers and duties who acts under the direction of a board of health.

Leibrand is the county’s third health officer in Island County in a month.

Dr. Joel McCullough notified Island County Public Health on Dec. 13 that he would not renew his contract in the new year.

Dr. Scott Lindquist, the state’s epidemiologist on communicable diseases, filled in as the county’s health officer on a temporary basis.

Higman said the county will continue to look for a permanent health officer.

Whatcom County officials are also hiring a health officer, he said, and there’s a possibility that Island and Whatcom can share resources.