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Health officer placed on leave

June 15, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel is on administrative leave pending a review by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Wednesday.

Snook said he did not know what day Christoffel was placed on leave, but he thinks it was Friday.

The state has not discussed the specifics of its review, Snook said.

"They're conducting whatever they're doing, and we have not been exposed to any of that," Snook said.

The commissioners likely will discuss the results of the review, Snook said.

Christoffel, who works for the Washington County Health Department, is a state employee, but the commissioners serve as the local Board of Health and have a say in who is hired or terminated from the health officer position.

Christoffel's annual salary is $96,355.

"Whatever action they're taking right now is a state matter, and the commissioners will discuss it," Snook said.

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Christoffel did not return two phone calls Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone in his office Wednesday afternoon said he was not there.

Karen Black, public relations director for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, refused to comment on Christoffel's status.

She would not confirm whether he was on administrative leave or whether he is being paid while on leave.

"We can't comment on any personnel issue," Black said.

Snook said the commissioners might take action after seeing the results of the review.

The commissioners have the authority to hire or fire local health officers with concurrence from the state, Snook said.

"If the state says one thing and the county says another, I guess it's status quo for the moment," County Attorney John Martirano said.

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