Lewis County Again Has a New Health Officer


Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated the county did not have an active health officer for five months.  However, Drs. Steven Krager and Alan Melnick served in the role until Dr. Joe Wiley took over. The Chronicle regrets the error. 

Lewis County’s new health officer is now on the job, according to a news release from the county.

Dr. Joe Wiley is a pediatrician who worked at the Northwest Pediatric Center in Centralia for 27 years. He is on staff at Providence-Swedish Centralia Hospital, where he’s worked since 2017.

“My goal is to protect the public health, to intervene and limit the spread of disease or illness,” stated Dr. Wiley in the release. “I want to be of service to the community, collaborating with health care practitioners. It’s crucial to have open communication and to receive feedback from providers and educators to be able to give sound advice.”

Drs. Steven Krager and Alan Melnick, who work jointly as health officers for several other Southwest Washington counties, were fired by the Board of County Commissioners (which is also the Board of Health) in March, as commissioners Sean Swope and Lee Grose cited a desire to bring someone local into the position. Regardless, Krager and Melnick remained in the role until Wiley started work. 

The doctors jointly re-applied for the position when it was posted, but the board picked Wiley instead.

Before interviews with the Board of Health, all candidates were first reviewed by a citizen commission, which advised the re-hiring of Melnick and Krager after the team scored the highest on a rubric. The other two applicants were local physicians, meeting the desire of Swope and Grose.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have a local health officer who has provided care to thousands of people in our community,” stated Swope in the release. “He has a great reputation, an advocate for our people and our way of life.”