Acting Benzie-Leelanau health worker appointed after Lisa Peacock resigns
Health worker Lisa Peacock has announced her departure from the Northwestern Michigan (HDNW) Health Department, following intense criticism over school mask mandates and citing a ‘hostile work environment’ created by some board members.
Michigan Bridge reports that tensions persist at the March 1 meeting of the multi-county health board – made up of two county commissioners each from counties Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego – which accepted Peacock’s resignation effective April 29.
Peacock’s resignation leaves a vacancy for the same position with the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department (BLDHD).
At their meeting last week, the HDNW Board of Health discussed the transition plan for the future direction of the health department. They named Dan Thorell, deputy health officer for the Northwest Michigan Department of Health, as acting health officer effective April 30, subject to departmental review and approval. of Michigan Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Dianne Litzenburger, public information officer at HDNW, said the temporary appointment will allow the Board of Health time to search for a permanent health officer while providing staff and program support.
HDNW is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality health care, address health issues for vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for residents and visitors to Michigan counties. Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego. Per the contract the health department has with the BLDHD, Thorell will also serve as the acting health officer for Benzie and Leelanau, spending 30% of his time serving those counties.
In his interim role, he says, “I look forward to working with the boards of health and the staff of both health services [Health Department of Northwest Michigan and the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department] continue to serve the community in a positive way.
Thorell’s background is in environmental health services as well as public health leadership and he is currently one of two deputy health officers for the Northwest Michigan Department of Health. (He and Holly Campbell, a registered nurse and HDNW nursing supervisor, were appointed health worker assistants on Feb. 4 of this year.)
Dan Thorell, in addition to his role as Deputy Health Administrator, serves as Director of Environmental Health at HDNW, a position he has held since 2021 and is currently in the process of recruiting for a replacement.
Dr. Joshua Meyerson continues to serve as Medical Director of both Health Departments, as well as District #4 Health Department.
Pictured: Dan Thorell and Lisa Peacock.