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Health and Social Services appoints new chief medical officer and public health director

Dr. Ward Hurlburt returns to public health in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan announced today the appointment of Dr. Ward Hurlburt to the joint position of chief medical officer for the department and director of the Division of Public Health, effective Sept. 8. Before moving to the private health sector, Hurlburt served more than 30 years with the U.S. Public Health Service, including long assignments in Alaska and several years as an assistant surgeon general.

"We couldn't be happier with the level of experience and expertise Dr. Hurlburt brings to our team," Hogan said. "His ties to Alaska are broad and invaluable, and he knows firsthand the unique challenges of tackling health issues in our state."

In his 32-years with the Public Health Service, Hurlburt served as hospital administrator in Dillingham, hospital administrator and chief of surgery at the Alaska Native Medical Center, and as deputy director of the Alaska Area Native Health Service. He considered Alaska his home from 1961 to 1993 when he retired from the Indian Health Service. Before moving back to Alaska in June 2009, he worked as vice president, chief medical officer and consultant for managed care organizations in Washington, Utah and Oregon.

Dr. Hurlburt replaces former Public Health director Bev Wooley, who left the department in July 2009, and former chief medical officer Dr. Jay Butler, who returned to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., to lead the Pandemic H1N1 Vaccine Task Force. Both those positions have been combined.

In his new position, Hurlburt will provide medical consultation to the department and oversee all programs and services responsible for the protection and promotion of public health in Alaska.

Posted Sept. 9, 2009

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