State Of Maryland Requests Removal Of Anne Arundel County Health Officer

| January 8, 2013
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Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

The State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has requested the removal of Anne Arundel County Health  Officer, Angela Wakhweya, M.D.  While this move appeared to surprise many members of the council, others came to the County Council meeting last night prepared to make the argument.

The initial request came from Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, Joshua Sharfstein,  M.D., the County Council is now tasked with the removal. In a January 3, 2013 letter obtained by Eye On Annapolis and sent to County Council Chairman Jerry Walker and County Executive Leopold, Sharfstein writes:

This request is based on the assessment of Dr. Laura Herrera, Deputy Secretary for Public Health, Keneithia Taylor, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, and Harold Young III, the acting Deputy Director of the Office of Human Resources of what is in the best interest of a highly functional Anne Arundel Department of Health. Dr. Wakhweya is an experienced public health professional, but the department has lost confidence that she can lead the health department effectively at this time.

The County Health Officer is an at-will state employee but is ultimately hired by the County Council (on recommendation from the County Executive) and the Council will be responsible for her removal if it comes to that.

According to the Charter (Sec. 553):

The County Council shall constitute the County Board of Health. With the advice and consent of the State Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene the County Executive shall submit to the County Council his recommendation for the appointment of a County Health Officer, and when approved by the Council, the same shall constitute the appointment required by State law.

In order to remove the Health Officer, the Charter is also specific:

(g) Removal. — The health officer for a county may be removed from office with the concurrence of the governing body of that county and the Secretary.

While no one is sure of the issues surrounding the request for removal,  Dr. Wakhweya’s attorney feels that it is racially motivated.

According to a tweet by the Broadneck Patch (Eye On Annapolis was not at the meeting), Annapolis Alderman Kenneth Kirby was fully briefed on the situation.

Apparently a cadre of black leaders in the County attended the meeting to ask for more investigation before taking any action.  County Councilman, Chris Trumbauer requested that the discussion be tabled until the next meeting on January 22, 2013.

Anne Arundel Patch is reporting that Wakhweya was put on leave by the State in November pending an investigation and when she returned in January, was told that she was being placed on indefinite leave, which her attorney claims, does not fall under the scope of the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

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Category: Local News, NEWS, POLITICAL NEWS

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Eye On Annapolis is a community based site focusing strictly on Anne Arundel County. These staff postings are general news postings made by our team of bloggers throughout the day and are not attributed to any one particular staff person.
  • Mitchelle Stephenson

    Very interesting. I know Josh Sharfstein because he worked with my husband on Capitol Hill. He is most definitely a stand-up guy. I can’t imagine him being motivated by anything other than public health concerns. He worked in Congress as a health adviser to Rep. Henry Waxman of California (the very same congressman who ran the tobacco hearings back in the day); later Dr. Sharfstein worked at the FDA where he fought to get more oversight on pediatric medications. He was tapped by O’Malley to be public health officer for Baltimore and then for the state. Throughout his various tenures, he has worked tirelessly on mental health, addiction and a variety of public health issues. He’s taken on big tobacco and the pharmaceutical industry. He’s beyond reproach.