TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Gov. Laura Kelly has appointed a former Topeka hospital executive as the new secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. 

Janet Stanek has most recently been director of the state employee health benefits program. She replaces Dr. Lee Norman, who announced his resignation on Nov. 19. 

Norman drew attention during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and was perceived as the state’s leading expert on the issue. The former KDHE secretary commonly joined Kelly for weekly press conferences with updates on the statewide situation of the virus’s spread, and later vaccine rollout.

Stanek will now serve in the health secretary’s role in an acting capacity until the Kansas Senate confirms her as the new head of the agency. She received high praise from Gov. Kelly.

“With Janet’s decades of experience as well as the relationships she has built across the medical community in Kansas, I have no doubt that she will be able to step into this role immediately and continue the agency’s critical work,” Kelly said.

Stanek’s first comments after taking the position indicated she is preparing to carry the torch with Norman’s previous efforts against COVID-19.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the agency has done a remarkable job helping lead the state’s response to this once-in-a-century crisis. I look forward to working with the entire KDHE team to build on their outstanding work.”

Stanek has held healthcare leadership positions in Pennsylvania, New York and Kansas. Stanek spent 21 years at Stormont Vail Health Topeka, where she last was chief operating officer and senior vice president.