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Bethlehem Replaces Embattled Health Director

Judith Maloney, suspended in March after her arrest, is out as Health Director. Acting Director Kristen Wenrich is promoted.

 

Embattled Bethlehem Health Director Judith Maloney was officially replaced Tuesday by Kristen Wenrich, who has been serving as the acting health director for months.

Maloney’s employment with the city officially ended last week, 10 months after she was suspended following her arrest for domestic simple assault.

Maloney’s boss, Bethlehem Community and Economic Development Director Joe Kelly, would not say if she was fired nor would he describe the terms of her departure. Kelly would only say that Maloney is no longer employed by the city.

Wenrich was recommended by the Bethlehem Health Board on Friday and Mayor John Callahan accepted that recommendation, according to a news release.

"I believe Ms. Wenrich will be an excellent health director for the City,” Callahan said. "I look forward to continuing to work with Kristen in her new role in our Health Bureau.”

Wenrich’s primary job was as community health risk behaviors manager, which she continued to perform while she was acting health director. As a result of the promotion, the Community Health Risk Behaviors Manager position will be eliminated and those duties dispersed among existing staff.

Wenrich has been working with the city since 1998. She earned both her undergraduate degree and a master's in public health from East Stroudsburg University.

In addition to her health bureau responsibilities, Wenrich leads the city's Continuous Improvement Initiative.  This initiative was started in 2007 as part of public private partnership with Air Products to help identify ways to reduce waste and create efficiencies in the services the city delivers.

The health director salary is $79,379.

Maloney was suspended from her duties March 9, 2012, hours after she was arrested for allegedly hitting her domestic partner in the head with a glass candleholder. The blow caused a wound that required three staples to close.

Charges of simple assault and harassment against Maloney were dropped in July because “Ms. Maloney accepted responsibility and was getting therapy,” said Lehigh County Assistant District Attorney Juliet Dowling.

That was not the first time Maloney had been in trouble with her employer because of a brush with the law. In 2008, she was suspended from duty after she was arrested for drunken driving and harassment. The harassment charge was dropped and the drunken driving charge was expunged after she completed a program for first-time offenders.

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