Tuolumne County’s Public Health Officer Calls It Quits
Sonora, CA – In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuolumne County is losing its Interim Public Health Officer.
In fact, county health officials relay Dr. Liza Ortiz’s last day is today. They add that her service “was expected to be limited in duration.” Dr. Ortiz was appointed to the position in early April on a temporary basis with a three-month contract that allowed for incremental extensions, as reported here.
Earlier today Clarke Broadcasting had inquired with county officials regarding the status of Dr. Ortiz. This afternoon they put out a press release. In it, county officials detail that Dr. Ortiz had informed the Health and Human Services Agency Director several weeks ago, and last week confirmed, that September 11th would be her last day in the office. Tuolumne County Administrator Tracie Riggs tells us that Dr. Ortiz accepted a job elsewhere, but she did not know where or the employer.
County health officials add, “Dr. Ortiz’s leadership, guidance, and dedication to protecting the health of Tuolumne County during the COVID-19 pandemic has been invaluable. She has worked tirelessly with the rest of the Public Health Department staff and coordinated with local, regional, and statewide partners on our local COVID-19 response.”
Dr. Ortiz had replaced Dr. Eric Sergienko, the Public Officer for Mariposa County, who was also serving on an interim basis after Tuolumne County Supervisors fired Dr. Bob Bernstein who has been in the position since April of 2018, as detailed here. Dr. Sergienko is now back on the job on an interim basis due to a Memorandum of Understanding with Calaveras and Mariposa Counties. He is scheduled to give the presentation and planning status update for COVID-19 at Tuesday’s (Sept. 15h) Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Recruitment for a new permanent health officer has been ongoing since even before Dr, Ortiz was hired, as reported here in July. Riggs details, “We are engaging the assistance of a recruiting firm as we’ve had no success with the candidates who have applied.”