EAST WENATCHEE — Bruce Buckles, director of Aging and Adult Care of Central Washington, will lead the Chelan-Douglas Health District as its interim administrator with the retirement of longtime chief Barry Kling.
The Chelan-Douglas Board of Health voted Friday to accept Buckles, 65, after he was interviewed by three boardmembers Thursday. Kling, who’s led the district since 2003, announced his retirement this week, after friction developed over a lawsuit brought by some boardmembers to end the state’s COVID-19 state of emergency.
The change comes as the two counties struggle to move out of a “modified” Phase 1 status in Gov. Jay Inslee’s four-phase Safe Start recovery plan. They are among the last five counties still in some version of Phase 1, three months after Inslee originally declared a state of public health emergency.
At Aging and Adult Care, Buckles oversees the flow of services to some 10,000 senior clients in a six-county area. The agency is funded with a mix of federal and state dollars, and supervises seniors’ nutrition care, nursing home oversight, transportation assistance, in-home nursing and other crucial services.
Buckles will earn $9,250 a month in the interim post, board attorney Chuck Zimmerman said in the meeting. Buckles plans to take a leave from Aging and Adult Care to lead the two-county health agency, Zimmerman said.
As of Friday, 517 Chelan or Douglas County residents have been confirmed to have COVID-19 infections. Nine have died.