LAS VEGAS -- From food poisoning outbreaks to deadly viruses, it is been a difficult year for Las Vegas health officials.
The Southern Nevada Health District board named a new chief health officer in a 7 to 3 vote Tuesday.
Board members favored Dr. Thomas Coleman over Washoe County District Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser.
"It will be a challenging position. I think it potentially could be a very fruitful position," Dr. Coleman said.
Coleman is currently Director of Community Health for the Southern Nevada Health District.
His appointment came hours after the board questioned the two candidates.
"What steps have you taken to embed the vision, mission and values of your organization or this organization into day-to-day operations?" asked Clark County Commissioner for District G Mary Beth Scow.
However, some members were caught off guard when Iser decided to ask the questions.
"So, what is your management style? How do you expect to work with a chief health officer?" Iser asked.
Nevertheless, the new leader says one of the biggest obstacles is restoring relationships tested by previous director Dr. Lawrence Sands, who resigned.
"What I've seen is a strange relationship with the county and that is not meant to point it out to Commissioner Scow or anybody else. It is just the reality of what has occurred from prior leadership. And I'm committed to move us past that," Coleman said.
The Southern Nevada Health District faces many challenges.
The sudden closure of the agency's own building because of critical structural damage in April. Health district services are now spread around to several buildings around southern Nevada, leaving many people confused.
The salmonella outbreak at Firefly on Paradise that sickened dozens of people and the return of the West Nile Virus. Not to mention the huge hepatitis C scare in 2007 related Dr. Dipak Desai's endoscopy clinics.
The next big project is to find a permanent home for the health district, Coleman said.