Challenges and Discrimination: The Recent Leadership Resignations at Multnomah County’s Community Health Center

Community Health Leader in Multnomah County Steps Down in Less Than a Year

Multnomah County’s community health center has recently experienced a significant shakeup in its leadership as Darnell “DJ” Rhodes, who was hired as the executive director in April, has resigned from his position after less than a year. Rhodes, who was earning $273,000 annually, stepped down on Friday.

When Rhodes was first hired, county officials praised him as “a proven leader and strategic thinker” after a national recruitment process. In his role at the health center, Rhodes was responsible for overseeing eight primary care health centers, seven dental clinics, seven pharmacies, and nine student health centers within the county. However, Rhodes faced challenges shortly after starting in his position and was placed on paid administrative leave in October. He later revealed to Willamette Week that he had experienced discrimination as a Black leader within the organization. Despite returning from leave in January, Rhodes ultimately chose to resign from his position.

Rhodes’ departure is one of three recent resignations within the health center system. Jeff Perry, the chief financial officer, and Bernadette Thomas, the medical director, also stepped down. According to Serena Cruz, the county’s chief operating officer, these departures were unrelated to Rhodes’ resignation. The impact of these recent resignations on the health center and its operations remains to be seen. Both Rhodes and county officials have not provided further comments on the matter despite being reached out by The Oregonian/OregonLive for additional information.

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