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Rep. Redfern Calls for Removal of State Health Director

Like Erie lawmaker cites lack of experience with public health emergencies, like Toledo
August 4, 2014
Democrat Newsroom

State Rep. Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) today called on Gov. Kasich to remove the new Ohio Health Department Director, Rick Hodges, citing the need to have a department leader with experience in dealing with public health emergencies, like the water crisis in Toledo.

Hodges, the former Executive Director of the Ohio Turnpike, has no training or experience in healthcare-related fields—a qualification Redfern says is explicitly required by state law.

“The drinking water crisis in Toledo highlights how important it is to have a seasoned healthcare professional leading the state's response to public health emergencies. With 500,000 Ohioans in need in need of safe and reliable drinking water, it is discomforting to know that the new leader of the state’s public health agency, former Turnpike Director Rick Hodges, has no medical training or experience in healthcare,” Redfern wrote in the letter.

Redfern’s legislative district includes the western basin of Lake Erie. 

A copy of the letter can be seen below:

August 4, 2014

Dear Governor Kasich,

The drinking water crisis in Toledo highlights how important it is to have a seasoned healthcare professional leading the state's response to public health emergencies. With 500,000 Ohioans in need of safe and reliable drinking water, it is discomforting to know that the new leader of the state’s public health agency, former Turnpike Director Rick Hodges, has no medical training or experience in healthcare.

Your installment of Mr. Hodges as the Director of the state health department not only undermines public faith and confidence in the state's ability to adequately respond to emergencies like the Toledo water crisis, but— as you know —it wholly violates Ohio Revised Code chapter 121 section 10.

121.10 Director of health - qualifications. 

The director of health shall be either: 

(A)    A physician holding the degree of doctor of medicine from a medical college approved by the state medical board who, before assuming his duties, has been licensed to practice medicine in the state and who has had experience in pursuing some phase of medical practice;

(B)    An individual who has had significant experience in the public health profession.

Effective Date: 07-01-1993 

Declaring a state of emergency for the Toledo water crisis can bring every state resource to bear in addressing what has quickly become a public health matter.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hodges' severe lack of experience with public health policies and procedures-— in addition to the potential magnitude of public health emergencies our state is faced with —should underscore how important it is that you select a new Director for the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohioans pay for, and deserve, a director with thoughtful leadership grounded in sound and practical experiences in the public health sector. It seems clear that Mr. Hodges fails in this regard.

I look forward to your swift action and would appreciate a response.

Sincerely,

State Rep. Chris Redfern