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

Multiple Resignations Leave Multnomah County’s Community Health System Struggling: Insight on the Unrelated Departures of Darnell Rhodes, Jeff Perry and Bernadette Thomas

In April 2023, Darnell “DJ” Rhodes was hired as the executive director of Multnomah County’s community health center. Rhodes, who had a proven track record as a leader and strategic thinker, was tasked with overseeing eight primary care health centers, seven dental clinics, seven pharmacies, and nine student health centers within the county. However, despite being praised by county officials at the time of his hiring, Rhodes faced challenges shortly after starting in his position.

In October 2023, Rhodes was placed on paid administrative leave after facing discrimination as a Black leader within the organization. Despite returning from leave in January 2024, Rhodes chose to resign from his position. His departure was 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. However, neither Rhodes nor county officials have provided further comments on the matter. The impact of these recent resignations on the health center and its operations remains to be seen. The Oregonian/OregonLive reached out to both parties for additional information but did not receive a response. For more news and updates on this developing story

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