Board of Health holds meeting on Amy, ousts chairwoman

Published 7:24 pm Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Mississippi Board of Health has agreed to decide whether cause exists to fire state Health Officer Dr. Brian Amy.

Seven of 13 members met in private for more than an hour Wednesday to discuss Amy’s future and to replace board chairwoman Mary Kim Smith, who has not attended the board’s last two meetings.

Smith, a supporter of Amy, was replaced by Dr. Luke Lampton, according to the report.

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The board issued a notice of hearing and a date will be set later by the attorney general.

Amy has been under fire for months over alleged shortcomings in his leadership since 2002, including claims that the agency failed to inform Mississippians about suspected outbreaks of West Nile virus, among other diseases.

Both houses of the Mississippi Legislature have considered measures that would oust Amy.

Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, has held a series of public hearings over the past several months to explore allegations that the Health Department was mired in problems.

Sam Begley, Amy’s attorney, called Wednesday’s action “confusing.”

Begley obtained a temporary restraining order to keep the board from firing Amy on Feb. 2, saying the board had failed to follow procedure by providing cause of termination and allowing a hearing.

Board members would not discuss Wednesday’s meeting.