May 18, 2020 11:24 PM

Baldetti: Health Department keeping secure office after digital hostility-UPDATED

Posted May 18, 2020 11:24 PM

Correction: A previous version of this story implied that the Sheriff's Office was certain of the identity of the caller to the Health Department. The investigation continues, but after a Monday evening call from Sheriff Campbell, they have not come to a definitive conclusion on that yet.

By NICK GOSNELL

Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County Health Department director Nick Baldetti is having to deal with more negatives than just COVID-19.

"At the Health Department, unfortunately, we've received some rather hostile communication," Baldetti said. "It seemed to ramp up last week. We are actually, at the Health Department right now, we are locking the door throughout the day and a staff member will meet individuals who have an appointment at the door to let them in."

Baldetti believes the frustration is not necessarily directed toward local policy, but his staff is taking the brunt of it.

"The Health Department is the proximal entity to decisions being made in Topeka," Baldetti said. "It seemed some of that frustration and hostility that's in the community has been focused toward this department."

Baldetti did communicate with the Sheriff's Department on the issue.

"We're just looking into it," said Reno County Sheriff Darrian Campbell. "We're making some phone calls.  I just want to encourage anybody that if they feel threatened or suspect anything, not to hesitate to call 911."

Campbell said they have not confirmed the person's identity who may have called the Health Department. Baldetti would not characterize the communication as threats, but believes the comments require some caution, in this day and age.