The occupation of guiding Kansas via a technology-defining general public wellbeing crisis for practically two years fell to Dr. Lee Norman. Right until recently, and suddenly, it didn’t.
Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly lately fired him as secretary of the Kansas Department of Wellbeing and Environment after months of cutting down his role as the confront of the state’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She then quickly replaced him with Janet Stanek, a longtime healthcare facility administrator who’s worked for the past 21 several years at Stormont-Vail Health and fitness in Topeka.
Stanek will consider the helm of the company on Monday.
For the duration of the initially various months of the outbreak, Norman, dressed in a white lab coat, was at Kelly’s aspect at greatly broadcast briefings.
That stopped in early summer season, when Will Lawrence, the governor’s chief of employees, turned involved that Norman’s blunt design additional strained relations in between Kelly and Republican legislative leaders.
Emails received by the Kansas Reflector discovered that Lawrence requested Norman to the sidelines.
On Nov. 19, Kelly introduced that Norman was “stepping down.” But a handful of days later on in an interview with the Kansas News Support, Norman disputed that. His interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: Ended up you fired?
Norman: I was asked to move down. I’m rather new to condition governing administration. But I realize that when you do the job for the governor, it is at the pleasure of the governor. That indicates when you’re requested to action down, you phase down.
Q: To What extent did that rigidity involving the governor and the Legislature influence the state’s pandemic reaction?
Norman: The divisiveness … actually interfered with it. It was (like) sticking a stick into the spokes of a bicycle. There are many states exactly where there hasn’t been this form of conflict. Pink states are a lot more possible to have these varieties of squabbles. It’s particularly real if the governor and legislature arrive from distinctive sides of the aisle.
Q: Why did issues get so political?
Norman: The shameful cure in the Trump administration of community overall health leaders, I assume, set the stage for having the exact same issue materialize at the point out degree. (Anthony) Fauci was Fauci’d. And to be genuine with you, I assume I was Fauci’d.
Q: Lots of public health and fitness staff, specifically at the county degree, stop due to the fact of conflicts with the general public and county commissioners. Other folks have been fired. How significantly of a toll has the pandemic taken on the state’s public well being workforce?
Norman: The brain drain out of public health and fitness places us in peril heading forward. There is no dilemma about that. In the point out of Kansas, out of 105 counties, 48 counties have lost either their general public wellness department administrator and/or their county well being officers.
Q: Most Kansans are vaccinated from COVID-19 but lots of even now are not. Is there any rationale to issue the safety of the vaccines and what concerns you if large figures of individuals proceed to refuse to get the shot?
Norman: The vaccines are safe and sound. A person of the counter-narratives that purely natural immunity is better than vaccine-driven immunity is simply just not real. The extended we have non-immune individuals roaming the Earth, the extra variants we are likely to see emerge.
Q: Looking again, do you have any regrets about your tenure as health secretary?
Norman: I’m very happy of the work that I and my team did about 700 times of just about ongoing function. But I consider I discovered a lesson. As much as I appreciate a excellent argument, social media is not the spot to do that (with legislators). Regrets normally, no.”
Jim McLean is the senior correspondent for the Kansas News Provider. You can get to him on Twitter @jmcleanks or e mail jim (at) kcur (dot) org.
The Kansas News Provider is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Community Radio, KMUW and Large Plains Public Radio targeted on health, the social determinants of wellness and their connection to general public policy.
Kansas News Assistance stories and images may well be republished by information media at no charge with appropriate attribution and a connection to ksnewsservice.org.
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