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CHEHALIS – Retired Centralia and Chehalis physicians and the current Lewis County Health Officers are applicants for the county’s future role in guiding health policy. Drs. Alan Melnick and Steve Krager were appointed two years ago at the height of the pandemic in a hasty decision to fend off the state making the appointment when the then health officer resigned. The Lewis County Commissioners  acting as the board of health decided to open the process to determine who else may serve the county’s particular health needs. Drs. Melnick and Krager of Vancouver, and retired doctors, family practitioner Dr. Michael Strohbach of Chehalis and pediatrician, Dr. Joe Wiley of Centralia have applied for the job. The Lewis county Health Advisory committee met Thursday to discuss their interviews with the candidates. Gaelon Spradley, the Chief Executive Officer of Valley View Health Centers said in regards to Drs. Wiley and Strohbach, “They have deep roots in the community and long term residency in Lewis County. On the other hand Dr. Melnick and Krager have a lot of experience understanding the needs of Lewis County having served as health officers in Lewis County, already having connections with school systems, with local health care providers, that are critical for public health.” Scoring the candidates on ten specific public health questions, on experience, communication and technical knowledge of the job, the team of Drs. Melnick and Krager ranked first among four of five advisory board members. Details of the interviews, including video, will be given to the Lewis County Board of Health at their Monday meeting. A decision on who will serve as Lewis County Health officer will be made within the next month.

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