LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, Dr. Joe Iser, announced his retirement Thursday. He will leave the post on Jan. 3.
Iser had previously told a committee he planned to leave in December of 2020. He had come under fire for frequent absences for travel, but was awarded a contract extension earlier this year.
Iser received a contract extension and a 2.5 percent raise in February, despite whistleblower complaints that he wasn’t around the office. He was making $325,000 a year in salary and benefits at the time.
He was also awarded back pay for six weeks of vacation that he never used, worth $32,000.
Dr. Iser has been a polarizing figure during his six years as chief health officer. A statement issued Thursday boasts of his many accomplishments, but the one not listed is what he did for morale by stepping down. The I-Team’s was inundated Thursday with messages from district employees who are glad to see him go.
In the I-Team’s report last week, it was revealed that Dr. Iser allegedly attempted to get rid of two employees who filed whistleblower complaints.
One was about the alleged manipulation of HIV cases. The second alleged that Iser had ordered an employee to create two non- profits for his personal benefit.
The I-Team has documented that Iser is often simply not around. Instead he travels regularly to his home in San Francisco and is often seen during the work week at the airport, but not in his office.
Here are excerpts from employee interviews the I-Team conducted earlier:
“I’ve seen him six times in the whole year we’ve been in this building,” said SNHD Whistleblower #3. “I never see him.”
George Knapp, I-Team Reporter: “His secretary moves his door?
Whistleblower: “Yes she opens and closes the doors and turns the lights on and off to make it look like he’s there.”
“People have given up; large amounts of people are quitting,” said Whitlsblower #2. “Nobody wants to work there anymore. It’s a miserable place to work.”
Iser said he plans to travel and spend time with his family.
“I have several trips planned and a list of national parks I would like to visit,” said Iser. “I’m also looking forward to spending much more time with my grandchildren and to kayaking, fly-fishing, and being active in the community.”
Dr. Fermin Leguen will serve as SNHD’s acting chief while the district conducts a search to replace Iser. Leguen is the current director of the Clinical Services Division.
Iser led SNHD through the purchase of its first building and a move from a Shadow Lane facility that had “dire” structural problems. SNHD’s new home is in a building that formerly housed a Target store at Decatur Boulevard and Meadows Lane.
An SNHD news release also credited Iser with securing funds to implement a Federally Qualified Health Center, the accreditation of a preventive medicine residency program, implementation of a primary care model, a mobile rural health campaign that provided immunizations and dental health services to underserved individuals, and responses to numerous outbreaks and public health issues.