State Department of Health chief Doctor Michael Fine is stepping down. Governor Gina Raimondo announced the state's top public health official's resignation Wednesday. Fine led the department through several crises during his tenure.
From soaring drug overdose deaths to the threat of Ebola, Fine has navigated some of the thorniest public health issues. But now he said it’s time to get out of government. Fine took the reins in 2011, overseeing an agency that employs more than 400 and a budget of more than a hundred million dollars. He has focused in part on improving access to primary care, stopping the spread of HIV, and improving vaccination rates.
Fine says his successor will have to confront the epidemic of drug overdoses. “Not just drug overdose death but the use, abuse, and dependence on both alcohol and drugs. That is the central, number one health problem afflicting the state of Rhode Island,” said Fine.
He also led the state through the threat of Ebola and a recent meningitis scare. Now, Fine says he hopes his successor will continue improving health care services in the state. “And I hope the next health director will pay very close attention to the health workforce we need to go forward, as well as HIV/AIDS. We’ve got to get to zero.”
Fine said it was time to leave government. His replacement has not yet been named, but Fine will stay on through the end of March to help with the transition.
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