A Bristol Bay health official fired last year after suggesting the coronavirus was a political conspiracy now runs the Ketchikan Tribal Health Clinic. Tribal officials say they have full confidence in the senior executive.
Lecia Scotford was COO of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation until March 2020. That’s when the Dillingham-based executive emailed her colleagues downplaying the pandemic and suggesting that ‘ it was a political plot.
The subject line read: “DO NOT PANIC”. The email said past health crises had occurred in even years, including outbreaks of Ebola, swine flu and Zika.
“And now Corona 2020! It’s not political …… .or is it ???? ” the email continued.
Her views were quickly condemned and she was fired shortly thereafter.
Earlier this year, Lecia Scotford was hired to lead the Ketchikan Indian Community Health Clinic. KIC tribal administrator Randy Williams said Scotford was hired by a former administrator – Williams took over from Charles White last month. But he told KRBD he has confidence in her as the administrator of the tribal health clinic overseeing health care for the Alaska Native community of Ketchikan.
“Everyone’s attitude has changed a bit, hasn’t it? I mean, I have to admit even mine has changed a bit. At first we think, “How serious is this pandemic?” Because he wasn’t really attacking us here in Ketchikan. And then all of a sudden everyone knew what that meant. And I think Lecia now knows what that means and would have a very different opinion on COVID, ”Williams said in a telephone interview on Friday.
Scotford did not return telephone and email messages left on Friday.
Williams says Scotford is an asset to the more than 6,000 members of the tribe.
“She’s such a qualified person for the job we have. And she is so ingenious for us in the administration, that we will win and benefit from her presence here with us and the support of our administration to improve the health care of our people, ”he said.
The elected tribal chief referred most questions about Scotford’s employment to the tribal administrator. Tribal Council President Gloria Burns said the day-to-day management of tribal government is the responsibility of the administrator.
“The tribal council was not involved in hiring this person,” Burns said by telephone on Friday. “The hiring of Lecia, who comes with a lot of experience … she was hired by the administration.”
Burns added that the federally recognized tribe of Ketchikan takes COVID-19 seriously and strictly enforces mitigation measures.