After 12 years, Joan Facelle, commissioner of the Rockland County Department of Health, is stepping down. She announced Thursday night that she is retiring at the end of January 2013.
"With or without an incentive, in my department I'm aware of six high-level retirements including my own. I will be retiring around the end of January," said Facelle. I have great concerns about the transition period for the health department and with the proposed retirements being planned, it's going to hit our administrative unit and our nursing unit particularly hard."
On Tuesday night, the county legislators discussed the 2013 proposed budget, which includes cutting 13 health department positions.
She added that while the budget process is still developing and it hasn't yet been decided whether or not the proposed 13 position cuts will be made, the department is facing "the perfect storm of senior management retiring .... and the proposed layoffs mean that we will be losing a lot of our innovative young people as well."
"We certainly will miss your dedication and committment," said Legislator Ilan Schoenberger.
"I too am very sorry that you're going to be leaving. We've worked together on a lot of things involving children and families," said Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell. "In a way, because you are retiring, I kind of wished you would put your foot down because you know how beneficial these programs are."
"I know finding a financial balance is tough. I'm here tonight advocating for the value of what we do and the people who have been doing it so effectively for so long. It's terribly painful to see the loss of the things we built," said Facelle, with the last few words cracking due to emotion.
Facelle has high respect for the employees and programs she's leaving behind, mostly because of the passion and love her employees have for their jobs and the communities they work with.
"I'm proud of all the work we've done. I'm proud of the staff and programs," she said. "Despite hard times, we've maintained effectiveness to keep everyone safe in the county."