Changes at the top: KDHE’s Dr. Lee Norman resigns, COVID expert steps down

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman will be resigning Gov. Laura Kelly announced on Friday.

This news also comes at the same time as Dr. Marci Nielsen, the chief COVID advisor for Kansas, stepped down from her role as of Thursday.

Norman has served as the KDHE Secretary since Kelly took office in 2019. Under his leadership, KDHE has spearheaded Kansas’ response to COVID-19, including the state’s testing strategy, the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“From the first confirmed case until today, Dr. Norman has played a vital role within this administration to provide guidance and help steer our state’s response to the virus,” Kelly said in a news release. “His and his team’s work to keep Kansans safe during this once-in-a-century public health crisis has cemented his place as the most consequential Secretary of Health and Environment in Kansas history.”

“I could not be more proud of each and every staff member at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment,” Norman said in the news release. “For the last two years they have gone above and beyond facing unimaginable circumstances to create and execute the framework of the Kansas’ COVID-19 response strategy. While leaving was not an easy decision, I have no doubt that the leadership will maintain a seamless continuity of operations as the agency continues its transition from crisis response to steady state.”

KDHE Deputy Secretary Ashley Goss will serve as acting secretary until a permanent candidate is appointed.

Senior advisor for COVID-19 vaccine equity Ximena Garcia is acting state health officer and Medicaid medical director.

Before joining Kelly’s administration, Norman had a distinguished career in the United States Air Force as a family physician, flight surgeon, and combat medicine instructor. He has served as a chief medical officer for over 26 years, most recently at the University of Kansas Health System.

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