The Grundy County Health Department has a new administrative team.
Phil Jass is in his third week as the department’s new administrator, and Michelle Bohacik is the department’s first financial manager.
“We have two good people and we are looking toward the future,” Joan Harrop, president of the Board of Health, said.
Jass replaces Kay Lynn Shoemaker, who resigned as the administrator in April.
He joins the Grundy health department after 19 years with Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Health Center. It has 17 health centers, 10 residential programs, two Head Start programs and numerous other services.
Through his almost two decades there, Jass held several roles, including safety and property manager and regional business manager for four community health centers in Kane County.
“I really enjoyed working there,” he said. “They were in fast-paced, well-resourced areas.”
He moved to Oswego to get away from the busy areas where he previously had lived. Although rural Grundy County was not necessarily somewhere he was targeting for work, he’s loving it.
“I love my drive to Grundy County. It’s relaxing and beautiful in my eyes,” Jass said.
Although he has only been with the department a short time, he already is formulating goals.
He was surprised to learn the department did not have a doctor on staff and he would like to add one to the strong nursing staff it already has, he said. The doctor would not have to necessarily be a department staff member, as the department could collaborate with another organization.
He also would like to increase the health services offered, such as adding dental care and Medicaid enrollment. In addition, he wants to market the department’s services and learn from the community what else is needed.
“The community tells us what its needs are and it’s our job to serve those needs,” said Jass.
The financial manager position was filled in mid-July. The goal for that position is to increase the department’s revenue. It was not formed due to the current investigation into possible theft from the department, Harrop said.
An investigation into whether a former health department employee was stealing form the department has been handed to the Attorney General’s office. The Grundy County State’s Attorney’s office recused itself, State’s Attorney Jason Helland said. He would not comment further on the investigation.
The possible theft was discovered after the department’s audit findings were shared in January.
Jass said he understands residents of the county may have concerns moving forward from this controversy, but he looks forward to helping them to do so.
“We are going to build relationships and trust all over again and that takes time and time I’ve got,” he said.
The responsibilities of the finance manager are to find and apply for grants for the department, Harrop said. The Grundy County Board has cut all of its departments’ budgets, including the health department’s, so new revenue has to be found.
“We still need to fund the services we have and sustain the employees we have,” she said. “It’s good to find other sources of funds so we can keep the services we have, especially mental health services where we have a waiting list.
Bohacik’s background is grant writing in the higher education field. Harrop said her experience and friendly personality are what made Bohacik the best candidate.
“I also have always had a place in community service and I think this position marries [grant writing and community service] in serving the local community by finding grants that will serve their needs,” she said.