Last night, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced that state health director, one of the top positions in the agency, has resigned.
Dr. Laura Gerald, a pediatrician who had been in the position since for the last 18 months, had served as the State Health Director and the director of the state division of public health.
No reason for her resignation was given by Wos, but a copy of Gerald’s resignation letter obtained by N.C. Policy Watch indicates she was uncomfortable with the policies being pushed in DHHS.
“Although I have demonstrated the ability to produce accomplishments that require work and collaboration with diverse groups and across political aisles, I acknowledge that I have significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services,” Gerald wrote. “These differences are making it increasingly impossible to continue to be effective in my current role.”
Gerald did not specify which policies she disagreed with, and she has not immediately responded to requests for comment.
DHHS sent out a press release about her resignation at 9:22 p.m. Tuesday night, an unusual time for such an announcement. Included was a note N.C. DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos sent to staff, thanking Gerald for her work.
Today, I have accepted the resignation of Dr. Laura Gerald, who for the past 18 months has served the people of the state as the Director of the Division of Public Health and the State Health Director, effective immediately. On behalf of nearly 18,000 DHHS employees, please join me in thanking Dr. Gerald for her service to the state and wishing her well on her future endeavors.
During this period of transition for the Department, I have asked Danny Staley, the Deputy Director of Public Health, to temporarily serve as the Acting Director of the Division of Public Health. I have also asked Robin Cummings, M.D., the Director of DHHS’ Office of Rural Health and Community Care, in addition to his current duties, to temporarily serve as the Acting State Health Director.
From newborn screenings to chronic disease prevention and management, the functions of the Division of Public Health are vital to protecting the health and safety of all North Carolinians. I thank you for your continued dedication and service as we seek to better serve our customers.
Aldona Wos, M.D.,
Gerald had a strong resume in public health, and received medical training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard University. She’s practiced pediatrics in her hometown of Lumberton, and was a senior advisor at Community Care of North Carolina, the nationally-recognized program that manages a large portion of the state’s Medicaid program.
We’ll post any updates we have.
UPDATE: (1:45 p.m.):
N.C. Policy Watch obtained a copy of Gerald’s resignation letter from a reader, and have confirmed it is real. She cites “significant differences and disagreements with many of the policy and administrative directions that I see unfolding in North Carolina and in the Department of Health and Human Services” as her reason for leaving.