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For Release: September 24, 2008
Contact: Leslea Bennett-Webb
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Health Commissioner to Retire

Secretary of Health and Commissioner of Health Dr. Michael Crutcher announced today he plans to retire from his post with the Oklahoma State Department of Health early next year.

“Although I am excited about the opportunity to pursue other interests, I am also saddened to leave this agency and the outstanding professionals who work here,” Crutcher said. “I am very proud of the way in which our public health workforce devote their time and talents to addressing the myriad of issues that comprise the practice of public health.”

Crutcher, 55, was appointed State Health Commissioner by the Board of Health on Nov. 13, 2003. He replaced Dr. Leslie Beitsch, who resigned in October 2003.

Crutcher first joined the agency in 1995, serving as State Epidemiologist until 2001, when he was named Deputy Commissioner of Disease and Prevention Services for the agency. He retired as a Captain from the U.S. Naval Reserves in 2004. In February 2007, Crutcher was appointed Cabinet Secretary of Health by Gov. Brad Henry.

State Board of Health President Barry L. Smith said the board will begin a nationwide search for a new State Health Commissioner.

“Dr. Crutcher has been an outstanding leader in public health for Oklahoma. His oversight of the Strong and Healthy Oklahoma Initiative, the expansion of Turning Point projects throughout the state, and implementation of Oklahoma’s tobacco control laws are among many projects working to improve our state’s health,” Smith noted. “Most recently we have seen a positive result of these kinds of efforts in our state’s improved immunization coverage ranking for children, now 15th in the nation.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has a workforce of about 2,400 employees with annual expenditures of more than $300 million. The agency is governed by the State Board of Health, which has nine members appointed by the governor with Senate confirmation. The Board of Health appoints the Commissioner of Health.

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