The Utah Academy of Family Physicians strongly opposes the proposed legislation SB6006 to alter the current job requirements of Director of the Utah Department of Health.
Regardless of the ongoing pandemic and health landscape in the state, it is a short-sighted endeavor to alter job requirements of such a critical position simply for the sake of accommodating an interim leader who is not qualified for the role.
As family physicians, we care for patients of all ages and backgrounds. In many cases we rely heavily on the leadership and direction from the Department of Health. Some of the most vulnerable patients in our community rely on the care and services coordinated through the department.
We are not advocating that only a physician should hold the top position, but that it needs an individual who has significant experience and education in the public health sector to firmly grasp the unique requirements and challenges of the position. It is disappointing to see that elected state leadership feels it appropriate to suggest changing the rules to accommodate the present, as opposed to putting in the work necessary to find the person best suited for the job. Reducing the required qualifications for the head and deputy head of the Utah Department of Health presents too great a risk and is contrary to the best interest of the health and welfare of our community.