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Health chief to step down

Vedder expected to resign in wake of county probe

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The head of the Salt Lake Valley Health Department was expected to resign Friday on the heels of a monthslong investigation probing allegations of mismanagement, county sources said.

The resignation of Dr. Kathryn Vedder follows several closed-door meetings by the 15-member Salt Lake Valley Board of Health responsible for Vedder's appointment as executive director.

Vedder declined requests for comment Friday.

County investigators sifted through numerous employee complaints regarding Vedder's management style in a three-month-long administrative review commenced by Salt Lake County's Department of Human Services.

The findings of that review are contained in an extensive report that by law is not available to the public, director John Rosenthal said earlier this month.

Unable to comment on the report's conclusions, Rosenthal did say investigators from the county personnel division interviewed past and present employees to determine if there was any basis to the allegations.

In the two years since Vedder was named executive director of Salt Lake Valley Health, employee records show the departure of several key upper-level managers.

Two deputy directors, as well as other administrators who worked closely with Vedder, have since gone on to other jobs.

The Deseret News contacted several people familiar with Vedder during her tenure as executive director of the health department, which employs an average of 350 people.

They agreed to talk only on the condition of anonymity.

One man said he never had a problem with Vedder but was aware others had difficulty working with her.

"The problem is mostly her personality. Her management style does not work in this county," he said. "She's passionate about what she does. She knows she's in charge of the largest health department in the valley, that she has some authority, and maybe she wields it a little too easily."

One former employee said Vedder was "abrasive" and "emotional" with employees.

"Her demeanor is such that she has reduced employees to tears and made them feel so poorly for no reason that they either quit or transferred."

Another employee said Vedder failed to communicate with the bulk of staff at the health department and kept herself isolated, often making decisions that surprised even the Board of Health.

Vedder's resignation amid turmoil in Salt Lake County comes four years after she was ousted from her position as head of the St. Louis City Health Department.

Accused of "inept" management by an elected city leader, Vedder was the subject of an investigation there that unveiled numerous problems in that health department that also included low morale and failing to secure state grants for child immunization programs.

E-MAIL: amyjoi@desnews.com