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County health services director gets new contract, pay raise

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a new three-year contract and a $20,000 salary increase for the county’s top health services administrator.

Rita Scardaci, the Health Services director, oversees one of the largest departments, with 588 full-time employees and a $239 million annual budget. This year Scardaci is charged with implementing major health reforms, including the rollout of an electronic records system for the county’s behavioral health system and boosting county mental health and substance abuse treatment services, a sector that saw deep cuts during the recession.

“Electronic health records systems allow us to interface with other doctors and nurses, giving us a more complete understanding of the clients we serve,” Scardaci said. “It’s a big endeavor for us.”

Scardaci, who took over the top post at the Department of Health Services in 2005, has overseen programs launched under the Affordable Care Act, including the expansion of Medi-Cal, California’s low-income health program.

“Rita’s implementation of the Affordable Health Care act is top on my list,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, following Scardaci’s contract renewal. “She’s also been great at leveraging state and federal funding so we can expand mental health and substance abuse programs.”

Scardaci last year led public health initiatives outlining health disparities in Sonoma County, with a goal to increase access for low-income and underserved people. The recent “Portrait of Sonoma County,” released in May, will help drive new programs, Scardaci said.

“It’s about the impact that education, and income, and health have on individuals,” Scardaci said. “It outlines areas to improve health outcomes in our community, and that’s where we’re moving.”

Scardaci’s 2.5 percent salary increase brings her annual pay to $196,440. Health and human services, funded primarily by the state and federal government, comprise nearly a quarter of Sonoma County’s $1.4 billion budget.

You can reach Staff Writer Angela Hart at 526-8503 or angela.hart@?pressdemocrat.com. ?On Twitter @?ahartreports.

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