I-Team: SNHD employees fed up, ready to walk over odd changes and dissatisfaction with management

LAS VEGAS - Employees of the Southern Nevada Health District say they are fed up and ready to walk. Widespread dissatisfaction with management came bubbling to the surface last year after I-Team reports about a lack of enforcement of pool safety.
 
But those inside the health district say it goes much deeper than that.

"We charged them $118 based on the complaint," said Southern Nevada Health District Director of Environmental Health Jackie Reszetar in an interview with the I-Team's George Knapp in July 2016.

Reszetar was contentious. She had trouble explaining why her office imposed a small $118 fine on Cowabunga Bay Water Park, even though inspectors had twice caught the park with fewer than half the required number of lifeguards on duty.

I-Team: New witnesses speak out in lawsuit against Cowabunga Bay

During one of those lapses, 6-year old Leland Gardner was swept under the wave pool and suffered permanent damage.  Instead of punishment, Reszetar led the effort to grant the water park a variance to reduce the number of required lifeguards by two-thirds. 

After the I-Team's interview with Reszetar was posted online, Reszetar wasn't happy, according to several employees who spoke to the I-Team anonymously.

"Very angry. She made comments in several meetings about how dare the news do this to her," employee number 1 said.

"I found the interview on YouTube categorized as a comedy, which very well depicts what it was," employee number 2 said.  "She was very angry, and doesn't like you very much."

For the most part, health district employees keep their opinions about Reszetar to themselves.  In 2015 health district staffers unloaded on her in an employee survey, their comments so scathing that the 2016 employee survey omitted the comments section.

At Board of Health meetings, union representatives often speak on behalf of disgruntled employees, but according to current and former employees, that rarely leads to changes on the ground.

"Nobody wants to work there anymore," employee number 1 said.  "It's a miserable place to work."

It has direct implications for public health and for public money. After the infamous interview had aired, management tried to find the identity of persons who might have been speaking to the I-Team.  In December, Reszetar ordered 10 employees to attend an unscheduled meeting, and during that meeting, she announced that they would all be transferred.

"They moved them into some of the worst positions, where they felt it would be like Siberia," according to employee number 3.  "This was done in retaliation."

"It was blatantly said it was retaliation and they were going to hide it by moving other people," employee number 2 said.

Employees say the transfers did not make sense. One employee, a senior food inspector with 30 years experience, someone who trained other food inspectors, was re-assigned to mosquito programs and mobile home inspections.

The expert who ran the district's Mosquito Abatement Program, which is vital in the control of infectious diseases, became a trainee in food inspection. This is not only a waste of years of expertise,  employees say, but also a waste of money.

"It takes about six months to train an inspector in that job duty they have, so if you count 10 people force transferred and then those people that have to retrain them, you're looking at $50,000 per person," employee number one.

"Now that they have moved experienced inspectors out of the food program, there's a need for inspectors in the food program," employee number 2 said. "One example, in particular, they moved someone out of that office, and now there's an opening in that office for the exact position.

According to the employees, the I-Team spoke with a larger issue is that overtime is prohibited, so there aren't any employees on standby. 

What does this mean?

If there's a public health emergency that occurs after regular work hours or on the weekend, such as contamination in a restaurant or a sewage leak at a Strip resort -- well, those emergencies are ignored by the Southern Nevada Health District until regular weekday and workday hours, despite the seriousness of the situation. 

The I-Team also spoke with members of the Board of Health about the employees' concerns. The I-Team will have those comments and a response from the district's management in any follow-up reports.


More Stories

Don't Miss

  • #OurPain
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • The 7th Annual 8 News NOW Super Recycle Event
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Red Cross Everyday Heroes
  • Politics Now
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Connect with 8 News NOW
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center