Gloucester's Board of Health will be drafting a letter this Thursday that distinguishes the city Health Department's role from other city entities.
The letter is being drafted at the request city Public Health Director Karin Carroll. At the board's last meeting, Carroll said the city needs a clearer delineation of the Health Department's role as she said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken has obstructed the department's mission by sharing incorrect COVID-19 information with the public and bypassing the department to personally arrange vaccine appointments for individuals, which the mayor has denied.
She added that a number of nurses have approached her throughout the year with concerns about losing their clinical licenses due to the breaches of confidence in certain circumstances.
During the Board of Health's April 8 meeting, the mayor noted that she did not violate any HIPAA laws as she was only translating for patients.
"I translate, I don't trace," she said.
Romeo Theken declined to clarify anything that she had said at the previous Board of Health meeting.
“I believe everything that needed to be said had been said last week,” Romeo Theken wrote to the Times this week in an email. “I have a good working relationship with Karin and hope to continue the work together. Any further concerns that may come up, my office will address with the board and Karin directly.”
When asked how the letter will keep other city officials accountable for their actions, Health Board Chair Richard Sagall explained that "our role is not to police what other people do. It is to discuss what we do."
Sagall said that any further comment will be discussed at Thursday's meeting.
Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.