City health director to step down after 10 years

City health director to step down after 10 years
Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-23 14:17:35-04

CINCINNATI -- The city's health commissioner will step down after more than a decade on the job.

Dr. Noble Maseru confirmed to WCPO that he'd be resigning effective May 1.

Maseru first joined the department in February 2006; he oversees more than 400 employees and an annual budget of $35 million.

The city's health department -- which reports to an independent board, like the city's parks and recreation departments -- operates a network of neighborhood medical and dental centers, and its inspectors check restaurants and other food service businesses inside the city.

Maseru's department sparred with Mayor John Cranley not long after his December 2013 election over a $1.3 million federal grant to provide health care to thousands of underserved residents; the city's Board of Health had lobbied against a local agency's effort to renew the grant. That happened after financially-strapped Neighborhood Health Care accepted a bailout from HealthPoint and agreed to merge with the Covington-based agency, and after HealthPoint's CEO took over NHC as interim director. City health officials complained that federal money assigned to Cincinnati shouldn't be handled by an agency headquartered out of state.

Cranley said the city's acceptance of the grant "could open us up to liability for serving clients in the suburbs." He said he didn't think the health department should expand services when the city faced a budget deficit and local non-profits were willing and able to take over.

He also objected to a "spiteful letter" from the health department to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration opposing NHC's effort to renew its grant.

Maseru also recruited local community leaders to lobby congressional delegates and raise their objections to HRSA.

Because it's an independent body, the Board of Health, not City Manager Harry Black, will be responsible for hiring Maseru's successor.