Spokane County health board hires Dr. Francisco Velázquez as health officer

<p><p>The Spokane Regional Health District board on Wednesday decided to keep Dr. Francisco Velázquez as the county’s permanent health officer.</p></p><p><p>Velázquez had been serving as interim health officer since November. He took over the job right after Health District Administrator Amelia Clark — and then the Board of Health — fired health officer Dr. Bob Lutz.</p></p><p><p>Lutz had been leading the region’s COVID-19 response and had served as health officer since 2017.</p></p><p><p>The Board of Health unanimously approved Velázquez’ hiring.  </p></p><p><p>Before announcing its decision Wednesday, the Board of Health had kept its hiring process secret, refusing to release the names of the two applicants who qualified — and were interviewed — for the health officer position.</p></p><p><p>“It is SRHD policy, and an HR industry standard, to not disclose the names of applicants other than to the members of the immediate interview team,” health district spokeswoman Kelli Hawkins said in an email.</p></p><p><p>In the past, the health district has publicly disclosed the names of applicants prior to selecting a health officer. It’s common for public boards to announce finalists for prominent positions and even conduct candidate interviews in public meetings.</p></p><p><p>For instance, in 2009 the Board of Health hired Dr. Joel McCullough as health officer after announcing that both he and Dr. Rachel Herlihy were the two finalists.</p></p><p><p>Velázquez has extensive experience in health care management.</p></p><p><p>According to his LinkedIn account, he has a master’s degree in health care management from Harvard University as well as degrees from Universidad de Puerto Rico and Universidad del Central del Caribe School of Medicine.</p></p><p><p><em>This story will be updated.</em></p></p>