New health director focused on earning back public's trust

After months of controversy that ended with the resignation of the former Mecklenburg county health director -- a new director is now in place -- and she's a familiar face.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After months of controversy that ended with the resignation of the former Mecklenburg County health director, a new director is now in place — and she's a familiar face.

Gibbie Harris doesn't pull any punches

“There’s not a lot of trust," Harris said. 

The new health director knows there's not a lot of trust among the 800 staffers she's now in charge of, and she's well aware the community doesn't trust the health department. 

"I know what I'm getting into," she said.

She knows because she's been the interim director since July, and more importantly because Harris was part of the team brought in to investigate earlier this year when the previous administration came under fire after oversight and sloppiness meant 185 women were never told they had irregular pap smears.

The scandal lead to Marcus Plescia stepping down. 

"There was a lack of accountability," Harris explained.

She says there was also a culture of fear within the health department.

"That’s what I hear from staff. There has been a culture of fear and being thrown under the bus," she said.

Harris, who was previously a health director in two other North Carolina counties, said she's working on that, as well as creating new leadership roles and redefining some programs that needed fixing, including the pool inspection program. This past summer, there was another controversy when it was discovered that 350 pools were given the green light even though they were never actually inspected. 

“We’re working as hard as we can to do that it’s gonna take some time, all of us working together," Harris said.

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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