Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer

Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer

Nov 02, 2020

Media Contact: Kelli Hawkins | | (509) 324-1539, c (509) 994-8968

Spokane, Wash. – The Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) provided further information and clarification regarding Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz.

General Comments:

SRHD acknowledges that this is difficult timing for such a transition. Administrator Amelia Clark would not have sought the employment separation of Dr. Lutz during the COVID-19 pandemic if other viable options were available. Administrator Clark determined that the performance issues were such that they needed to be addressed immediately for the benefit of SRHD and the community.

Reporting Structure:

The SRHD Bylaws provide that the Health Officer reports to the Administrator. The Bylaws further provide that “[t]he Board of Health shall approve the appointment and termination of a District Health Officer.”


  • Oct. 29 Regular Board of Health meeting - During the meeting, the Board went into executive session. No decisions were made or votes taken by the Board during the executive session. SRHD apologizes for prior reports that implied that a vote had been taken during executive session and for the incomplete information provided at Friday’s press conference.
  • Oct. 29 – Subsequent to the board meeting, Administrator Clark met with Dr. Bob Lutz. SRHD Board Chair Ben Wick attended the meeting as a witness. Administrator Clark told Dr. Lutz of her decision and offered to accept his resignation as Health Officer or his employment would be terminated. Dr. Lutz was given until 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 to submit his resignation, but he did not do so. SRHD does not comment on the reasons for the separation of employment other than during the hearing before the board absent written consent of the affected employee.

Future Events:

  • Consistent with the SRHD Bylaws and Washington State law, the SRHD Board of Health will schedule a special board meeting via videoconference to determine whether to approve Administrator Clark’s request to terminate Dr. Lutz. Both Administrator Clark and Dr. Lutz will be provided an opportunity to address the Board prior to a vote. The vote will occur in open session. This meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible while also providing at least twenty-four hour public notice prior to the meeting as required by law. Consistent with SRHD’s COVID processes, the public notice will include information on how the public can provide written comment to the Board prior to the meeting.
  • If the Board approves Dr. Lutz’s termination, the Board will then address whether to approve Administrator Clark’s recommendation that Dr. Mary Bergum, Medical Director for SRHD’s Treatment Services Division, serve as Interim Health Officer. Dr. Bergum is a licensed medical physician with 16 years of experience and has expressed a willingness to serve as Interim Health Officer if approved. She will provide support to the epidemiology team and COVID-19 response efforts including guidance recommendations to the community. SRHD will continue to work with Washington State DOH on COVID-19 guidance appropriate for Spokane County’s phase.
  • The SRHD COVID response team, including the multiple employees working in epidemiology, will continue to be focused on protecting our community by implementing the guidance issued by State Department of Health and advocating for Spokane County on issues related to the pandemic as they have since the pandemic began. In addition, Administrator Clark has already confirmed continued assistance from the Washington State Department of Health, as needed.

Continued COVID 19 Response:

  • SRHD remains committed to a science-based community response to COVID. This includes
    • Continuing to follow best available science;
    • Stressing the need for social distancing and wearing masks indoors and outdoors where social distancing is not possible;
    • Emphasizing extra caution during the upcoming holiday season;
  • While Dr. Lutz has been the public face of the COVID response in Spokane County, he has been supported by a team of over 300 SRHD employees who will continue to perform their jobs in the same exemplary manner. The Administrator and the SRHD Board are very proud of the work of its employees during this pandemic.