Schenectady County Public Health director out amid pandemic


Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY COUNTY — Schenectady County’s public health director is out.

Public Health Director Lisa A. Ayers’ last day of work was on Aug. 14, a county spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

While the spokeswoman confirmed Ayers’ departure, she declined to provide additional information.

“At this time we have no further comment on this personnel matter,” said Erin Roberts.

As county public director, Ayers was tasked with leading the county’s public health response during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ongoing. 

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Ayers didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.  

Attorney Kevin Luibrand, who is representing Ayers, said officials attempted to push her into retirement.

“She was requested to retire, and declined, and was demoted as a result of that,” Luibrand said.

Ayers, who is 59, does not have a master’s degree, and Luibrand said she was on her way to obtaining those credentials when she was demoted.

“She was given a time frame and the time frame hasn’t ended yet,” Luibrand said. “She was in the process of getting those credentials.”

It’s unclear which county officials attempted to push her into retirement and demoted her.

While the infection rate in New York state is among the lowest in the nation, officials fear a resurgence this fall.

Schenectady County did not make a formal announcement and The Daily Gazette learned of the change in leadership after obtaining a letter to city workers outlining COVID quarantine guidance signed by Keith Brown, who is listed as interim public health director. 

County legislators appeared to be caught off guard.

Reached by phone on Tuesday morning, Michelle Ostrelich, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee, appeared unaware.

“I’m going to need to get some more information on that,” Ostrelich said.

Ostrelich confirmed Brown has been tapped as interim public health director, but declined further comment, citing personnel issues.

“I don’t want people to worry,” Ostrelich said. “I have complete faith in our Public Health Department.”

Osterlich said she was unclear on the process for hiring a new director.

Deputy Chairman of the Legislature Philip Fields declined comment, citing personnel issues.

To date, 44 people have succumbed to the virus in Schenectady County, including a woman in her 70s on Monday.


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