Milwaukee Health Department manager suspended before commissioner resigned

Posted at 10:13 PM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 23:13:22-04

TODAY'S TMJ4 gained new insight into failures within the Milwaukee Health Department.

The city released information about a manager's 10-day suspension from her job with the lead poisoning prevention program.  This was before former health commissioner Bevan Baker resigned.

The I-Team found out the woman said the problems were much bigger than her.

Lisa Lien said she's spent 26 years safeguarding kids in Milwaukee, but her suspension notice from December claims she was ineffective, insubordinate and inefficient.

The suspension notice said Lien didn't do enough training for lead program nurses, didn't follow department policies and violated state statute.

Those accusations claim Lien failed to make sure all kids who tested positive for lead had enough follow-up, and allowed children in treatment for lead poisoning back into homes.

Health department data from January shows follow-up lagged below 75 percent for kids with lower, but elevated lead levels. For higher levels, the health department found almost all cases were addressed but noted in that January report more files were "flagged as potentially needing additional follow-up."

In response to her suspension notice- Lien wrote, "all required follow up for reported lead tests were completed per program guidelines."

She calls the accusation she didn't enforce follow up, and all other accusations in her suspension,  "inaccurate."

Her response echoes early reports of why Baker resigned, calling the work environment in the health department "harassing and unethical," writing she is a scapegoat.

Lien said in her response she didn't have administration support. She said she told human resources about staffing issues and didn't have the same management style as Baker and her immediate supervisor.

Lien said in her response lack of staffing is one reason the department wasn't able to get lead out of as many residences as it had in the past.  

We did reach out to Lien, she didn't answer the phone.