In a farewell to employees, Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia said that media attention on the agency’s failure to notify nearly 200 women about abnormal Pap smears and other problems led to his resignation Tuesday, according to an internal email obtained by the Observer.
Plescia wrote that recent negative media coverage had overshadowed his three-year tenure and “has become a distraction to the department, has rendered it significantly more difficult for me to accomplish what I came here to do, and has been a burden on my family.”
Plescia has been under public scrutiny since February when the Observer first reported that the agency failed to notify 185 women about their risk for cervical cancer following abnormal Pap smears.
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Some county commissioners have publicly questioned his leadership after it was learned that employees knew about the lapses for nearly a month before Plescia was informed.
They said they had received multiple anonymous complaints from current and former health department workers about Plescia and patient care at two clinics the agency operates.
More recently, some commissioners said they are angry that health department employees gave operating permits this month to public swimming pools without reinspecting water quality and equipment to ensure last season’s safety violations were fixed.
County Manager Dena Diorio announced late Tuesday that Plescia had resigned effective Aug. 4.
In a statement, Diorio thanked him for his work, but added “Dr. Plescia realizes that new leadership is needed to improve our processes and produce better outcomes for the residents who depend on Public Health every day.”
Plescia acknowledged in the email that criticism had taken a personal toll.
“I have felt frustrated at not being able to clear my name, and also that of the wonderful people who have committed their lives to this department,” Plescia said. “Regardless, my resignation will hopefully allow this agency of committed people to continue to do good work.”