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FOR RELEASE: January 28, 2001
CONTACT: Leslea Bennett-Webb
405/271-5601 or 405/364-8504

State Board of Health Narrows List of Commissioner's Candidates to One

Following an extensive national search for a new Commissioner of Health, the Oklahoma State Board of Health, meeting in executive session this afternoon, voted to invite Dr. Leslie M. Beitsch, currently Florida's Assistant State Health Officer, to return to Oklahoma for a second visit. The Board authorized its President, Dr. Jay Gregory, to negotiate a contract with Dr. Beitsch.

In a motion made by Dr. Ron L. Graves, Board Vice President, the Board stated, “Recognizing the unique and historic opportunity present at this time in Oklahoma, and following very positive and supportive meetings with the legislative leadership and the governor, the Board of Health requests the assistance from these parties in expeditiously moving to allow this process to conclude successfully.”

The Board said Dr. Beitsch received the top nod from a search process that included interviews with representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Health; other state agencies; the medical community; legislators; and constituencies on aging, children and the faith community.

Dr. Gordon Deckert, who chaired the Board's search committee, expressed the Board's appreciation “to members of the Advisory Committee and Department of Health staff, the larger health community, related state agencies, and legislators, and especially those representing the public, for their participation in this search process.”

Beitsch was among the top five candidates selected for formal interviews. The other four were Elin A. Gursky, Sc.D., Edison, New Jersey; John Robertson, M.D., M.P.H., Albuquerque, NM; Garth Splinter, M.D., M.B.A., Oklahoma City; and Robert Vincent, Ph.D., Oklahoma City.


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