WATSONVILLE -- Dr. Zettie Page is stepping down as chief executive officer at Salud Para La Gente.
Dori Rose Inda, who is executive director of the Watsonville Law Center and has served on Salud's board of directors for the past six years, will replace Page on an interim basis.
The leadership change, announced Wednesday, comes as the nonprofit health clinic attempts to stave off cuts to elder care and dental services in the face of a budget shortfall.
Inda said her top priority will be looking at the "options and opportunities" to ensure services provided through Salud's dental department and the senior program, Elderday, continue and the nonprofit's finances are stabilized.
"I live here. I work here. It's my community," Inda said. "The services are important to me, and everyone who has spoken out in the community cares about the services as well. We'll all be working together."
Page, who also serves as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Migrant Health, joined Salud in August 2010.
His vision for Salud appeared to be at odds with the board. A week ago, the board rejected his recommendation to shutter the financially troubled Elderday, reduce adult dental services and lay off 10 employees.
Marc Pimentel, board chairman, said such differences were "normal and routine."
"Options were presented to the board, and the board felt there were other options worth pursuing," Pimentel said.
Pimentel and other board members praised Page's accomplishments at Salud, including an expansion from 13 to 23 sites, a strengthening of governance, revision to the strategic plan, and implementation of an electronics record system. He also secured nearly $8 million in grants to improve clinics.
"Dr. Page brought to our small community a powerful combination of educational and professional background," Pimentel said.
Page could not be reached to comment. But in a written statement provided by Salud, he thanked the board for giving him time during the holidays "to reflect on the amazing work we collectively accomplished in such a short time" and to prepare for new unspecified challenges in the coming year.
Pimentel pointed to Inda's long history both working in collaboration with Salud and as a leader in the organization, saying it made her "a natural fit" for the transition.
He said a pool of strong candidates from the 2010 recruitment is providing a starting point for the search for a permanent chief executive.
Inda, who is due to return to Watsonville Law Center in January after a three-month sabbatical, will divide her time between the two agencies until her replacement is found.
"Even though my hours are part time my commitment is full time," she said.
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