LONDON, ONT -- A new division of power at the top of the Middlesex London Health Unit is being welcomed by the Warden of Middlesex County.

Earlier this week it was announced that Dr. Chris Mackie would no longer be both CEO and Medical Officer of Health at the Middlesex London Health Unit, choosing to instead to only hold the position of Medical Officer.

Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, Warden of Middlesex County, says the Health Unit should never again let both positions be held by one person.

“Taking the position, and making it two, makes great sense at this time,” said Burghardt-Jesson.

Mackie has been both Medical Officer of Health and CEO at the Middlesex London Health Unit since he was hired in 2013.

Monday he announced an interim-CEO, Dr Michael Clarke, will be taking over the administrative responsibilities so he could focus on medical matters related to the pandemic.

Burghardt-Jesson suggests problems with the recent move from 50 King St, and having to borrow $400,000 from a line of credit last week to cover payroll, indicates the CEO’s responsibilities require full time attention.

“I have raised concern over the years with certain decisions that the health unit has made from a management standpoint. And the County has raised the same sort of concerns,” said Burghardt-Jesson.

Chair of the Middlesex London Health Board, Councillor Maureen Cassidy, rejects the suggestion that problems motivated the hiring of an interim CEO.

“None of those things have anything to do with the decision whatsoever. As far as the relocation went, were there mistakes made? Sure. But I would say that was organization wide,” said Cassidy.

“I would say, it probably came about from the board initiating it in as ‘How are things going?’ and ‘What’s the temperature at the health unit?’”

During his media briefing on Monday Mackie explained his medical workload during the pandemic continues to be significant even as local cases decline.

“This is definitely an interim structure; the board of health has been very clear about that. This is really very much about responding to what’s happening in the environment right now,” said Mackie.

The warden argues whatever the new structure— the CEO and Medical Officer of Health positions should remain separate.

“For the board to say that isn’t something they have considered, this is certainly a discussion that has been ongoing, or at least brought to their attention for a number of years,” said Burghardt-Jesson.

Cassidy adds that the financial impact of having both an interim-CEO and Medical Officer of Health positions has not yet been determined.