Coffey Co. Health Officer resigns over mask dispute with Commission

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 3:46 PM CST
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COFFEY CO., Kan. (WIBW) - The Coffey County Health Officer has resigned, causing a disruption in the chain of health care for residents.

The Coffey County Health Department says it has canceled appointments and cut several services due to the resignation of the local Health Officer earlier in the week.

Dr. John Shell said his decision on Monday followed the Coffey County Commission’s vote to opt-out of the statewide mask mandate. He said he also served as the county’s Health Officer and Deputy Coroner.

According to Dr. Shell, commissioners called a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the next steps.

CCHD said until a new medical consultant is named, the health department cannot do things like immunizations, physicals or COVID-19 tests.

Dr. Shell said he volunteered in his role with the county for 15 years. He told 13 NEWS on Thursday that staying on would have been hypocritical.

“I recommended to the commission that we follow the governor’s mandate as I felt it was best for our citizens. When they opted out I didn’t feel I could stand by that decision as it would be hypocritical to my stance. I had volunteered in that capacity for 15 years but didn’t feel I could support decisions which did not prioritize our citizen’s health,” said Dr. Shell. “I would just add the outpouring of support for me and my family was very emotional.”

Dr. Shell’s resignation has sparked social media posts with a picture of a face mask and the words “I’m with Doctor Shell.”

Dr. Shell said he is overwhelmed by the support.

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