Kansas agency names acting state health officer amid leadership shuffle

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Monday named Joan Duwve as its acting state health officer as the agency continues to seek a permanent replacement in the wake of departures in its top brass.

Duwve previously worked as Kansas’ deputy state health officer. In a statement, acting Secretary of Health Janet Stanek said Duwve has provided valuable input on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.

“Her time at KDHE coupled with her extensive history as a physician and public health official makes her the best choice for this role,” Stanek said in the statement.

Duwve joined KDHE in 2020 and led the state’s COVID-19 unified testing strategy. She has worked in public health administration before in South Carolina and Indiana. Duwve is taking on the interim assignment to replace Ximena Garcia, an interim health officer who resigned after being named to the post a few months ago.

Top KDHE leadership has been in flux over the last few months following the departure of former Secretary Lee Norman in November. Norman’s exit came after leading the state through nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Duwve expressed thanks for the opportunity to step into her new role.

“The importance of public health has become increasingly evident over the past couple of years as we have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside state and local public health officials and stakeholders as we continue to work together to protect and improve the health of all Kansans.”

The Star’s Katie Bernard contributed to this report.

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