BOSTON (State House News Service) – With the state on alert for any sign of a deadly virus within its borders, Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett announced she will depart the post atop the Department of Public Health in mid-December, taking a job battling substance abuse on Cape Cod.
“Rates of smoking, childhood obesity and serious diseases are decreasing significantly thanks to the work of our entire public health team and our partners across the state,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz in a memo to colleagues Tuesday afternoon, which noted the state’s 80.7-year life expectancy is an all-time high. “On a personal level, having Cheryl as our DPH Commissioner has put a real partner and advocate for the public’s health in the role and I am both saddened to see Cheryl go, but happy to have been able to work with her at the helm of the Department.”
Bartlett will head up a new substance abuse prevention and treatment program at Cape Cod Healthcare, she told staff in a Tuesday memo. Bartlett was selected as acting DPH commissioner in May 2013, and was named commissioner in June 2013.
Medical marijuana advocates have sharply criticized the department’s implementation of a November 2012 voter law. Bartlett’s departure means the next governor may take office in January with an acting commissioner in charge.