In a letter sent Sunday, seven members of Spokane’s Health Advisory Committee announced their resignations due to a lack of trust in Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Administrative Officer Amelia Clark.
In their letter, the 7 committee members stated, “We will not be complicit in supporting administrators who have worked to subvert the public’s health.”
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The resigning members include: Patricia Butterfield, PhD, Michael Dunn, Ed.D, Cynthia Fitzgerald, PhD, Brian G. Henning, PhD, Rev. Genavieve Heywood, Petra Hoy, and William Lockwood, MD FACEP.
The seven resigning members specifically point to the “unwarranted termination” of Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane’s former health officer, as a key factor in their decisions to resign. Clark fired Lutz back in October due to “performance issues.” In November, the Washington State Board of Health voted to conduct a preliminary investigation into his firing.
Dr. Lutz is a knowledgeable public health physician who was responding effectively to the COVID-19 epidemic. His unnecessary termination has resulted in disruptions to public health services and a diminishment of trust within our community,” they wrote.
They also note that Dr. Lutz’s work in health inclusivity and serving underserved groups in Spokane has been undermined due to his termination.
The letter also accuses Clark of demonstrating “divisive, unavailable, and incompetent leadership” and failing to implement an evidence-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Twitter thread, Henning also stated:
During a pandemic, we need regular, clear, detailed, and direct communication from a respected health leader. We no longer have that.”
In response to the resignations, Clark released the following statement:
I am very sorry to see these members of the Spokane Health Advisory Council choose to discontinue their support of the health district during a time when staff are working tirelessly to keep the community healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The council plays a valuable role that allows the health officer to better understand the health needs within our community, and then share that information with the appropriate programs. I fully expect those conversations to continue with our Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez and with our future permanent health officer.”
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