"I felt like we had a positive meeting this morning," she said. "I got the impression that everyone was willing to move forward as a team."
Behrns said the board hopes to have a new administrator in place as soon as possible, possibly by Jan. 1 — though she cautioned that the search could take longer.
Behrns said Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines require a county health department administrator to have a master's degree in either public health or public administration, as well as two years professional experience in public health. While those guidelines specify that a person with a bachelor's degree and at least four years experience could hold the position, Behrns said her board would be looking for someone with a master's degree.
Candidates are encouraged to submit the hard copy of a resume to Effingham County Health Department, 901 W. Virginia St., Effingham, IL 62301, in care of Dot Behrns.
While Esker was earning about $62,000 per year at the end of her tenure, Behrns said the board hadn't talked about a salary range for the new administrator.
As for Esker, she plans to undergo a number of medical procedures before determining her next career move.
"We have to see what the results of those are," she said. "After that, I will be looking for opportunities to serve the public."
Esker said she planned to stay in the Effingham area, if possible.
County Board Chairman Jim Niemann said Tuesday that he had nothing to do with Esker's firing, even though Niemann has been concerned about the department's financial status for several months to the point where he spoke at a special Health Board meeting two weeks ago.
"All I want them to do is get their budget turned around and morale issues addressed," Niemann said.
"Was it my goal to get Kim fired? No."
Niemann said his input into Esker's separation from the department was "none whatsoever."