Ottawa County Health Department sees highest staff turnover in 10 years

OTTAWA COUNTY — Nearly 30 employees left the Ottawa County Health Department in 2023, the highest average of permanent employees in a decade, according to newly released data.

Health officials compiled the information and disclosed it to county commissioners after Deputy Health Officer Marcia Mansaray and Health Planning and Promotion Manager Lisa Uganski alerted the Health and Human Services Committee in December the department was struggling to fill open positions.

Adeline Hambley has been the health officer in Ottawa County since December 2022.

“Staffing capacity, hiring and retention issues were being experienced this calendar year in a way we haven’t experienced in previous years,” Mansaray said Dec. 5. “Staff turnover this year is higher in 2023 than in any previous year since 2013.”

At the meeting, Commissioners Gretchen Cosby and Allison Miedema asked Mansaray for data.

“It sounds like you’ve tracked since 2013 the turnover rate for the health department,” Cosby said. “Are we able to get a look at that, would that be something you would provide to the board of commissioners?”

Commissioner Gretchen Cosby sits during public comment  Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at the Ottawa County Offices in West Olive.

This week, Mansaray provided those answers, disclosing that 28 people left last year, more than 20% of all full-time employees in the department.

At the Dec. 5 meeting, Mansaray said the department previously saw an average of eight employee separations between 2015 and 2020. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is defined as 2020-2023 for the numbers provided, the highest number of separations was 35 in 2022 — which, at the time, only accounted for 13.6 percent of total full-time employees.

Ottawa County Health Department full-time employee separations for 2013-2023.

Mansaray defined “separations” as those who quit, retired or were fired from employment.

In a Jan. 3 email to the commissioners, Mansaray explained that of the 28, 21 were staff who left permanent positions — 15 quit, five retired and one was fired. Much institutional knowledge was lost, Mansaray said. The remaining seven positions were grant-funded and eliminated under the fiscal budget passed by the Ottawa Impact majority in September.


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