Instead of spending $250,000 for an independent review of San Diego County's ailing Department of Health, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to select an in-house worker to study the massive operation and submit a report to the board in six months.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Richard W. Jacobsen, the same man appointed to reorganize the county's search for a modern telephone system in wake of the 1984 Telink Inc. scandal, will conduct the six-month review of health services.
Jacobsen is known in county administration circles as a person who has a "keen insight into what makes the county tick," said Bob Lerner, a spokesman for the county.
Prompted by reports of poor patient care at Edgemoor Geriatric Hospital and Hillcrest mental health hospital, the supervisors in October reassigned James Forde, then-director of health services, and divided the department into three divisions: public health, physical health and mental health.
A new director probably will be appointed after the report is made, Lerner said.
The county had intended to contract with an outside consultant to conduct the review, but when nine bids at about $250,000 each were returned in August, the board determined a county staff member could complete the project at virtually no cost.
Since Forde's departure, Supervisor Paul Eckert said, the morale of the Health Department's staff has improved.
"The problem over there was that you could never quite get down to the bottom of problems," Eckert said. "Appears to me they had a severe management problem."