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Charlotte Area

Mecklenburg County Health Director Plescia Resigns

David T. Foster III
The Charlotte Observer
Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia at a county meeting in May.

Dr. Marcus Plescia has resigned as head of the Mecklenburg County Health Department, effective Aug. 4, capping off months of uncertainty about his future as employees grumbled about his leadership and county leaders questioned his performance.

Under his supervision, the agency became embroiled in scandal when it was revealed in February that the agency had failed to notify nearly 200 women about abnormal Pap Smear results. In the ensuing review conducted by the county's Human Resources Department, investigators found the health agency "lacked clear lines of supervision and management," and that employees lacked urgency once they identified the problem.

In extensive reporting by The Charlotte Observer, current and former health department employees complained that Plescia was paying too little attention to direct patient care, and that many nurses and health employees disagreed with the direction of the department.

In a staff memo sent moments before his resignation, Plescia thanked his employees and said he enjoyed his time with the department. He wrote that his tenure was unfortunately being cut short in part because of overshadowing from the scandal.

"I have taken steps to resolve the immediate problem, and hired consultants to help identify and expedite changes in our organization and clinical process," he wrote, "But now I think it is best for someone else to take over my leadership role in the long term."

Plescia also blamed his early departure on "the constant negative media coverage" which he said lacked balance and focused too heavily on him.

"(The coverage) 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," he wrote, "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."

In the press release announcing Plescia's resignation, County Manager Dena Diorio made no mention of scandal. The county manager focused instead on Plescia's accomplishments since taking the post on Feb. 1, 2014, among them enacting a smoking ban on government property in Mecklenburg County and creating a seasonal farmers market on Beatties Ford Road.

"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,” Diorio said in the statement.

Neither Diorio nor Plescia could be immediately reached for interviews.