LANSING — The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services abruptly resigned today.
An announcement from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office on the appointment of a new director, Elizabeth Hertel, barely mentions Robert Gordon’s resignation, and only in the final sentence of a news release and without an explanation for his departure.
Gordon announced his resignation via Twitter shortly before the governor’s office issued its announcement, which noted that Whitmer has accepted it.
“It’s been an honor to serve alongside wonderful colleagues. I look forward to the next chapter,” Gordon wrote in a Twitter post.
Hertel has served as MDHHS senior chief deputy director for administration since February 2019. She first worked at the department from 2013 to October 2016, when she left to become director of Michigan advocacy for Trinity Health, before returning to the state nearly two years ago.
Her appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.
“Elizabeth Hertel has dedicated her career to protecting Michiganders’ public health, and she is uniquely prepared to lead MDHHS as we continue working together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said in a statement. “She has served across multiple administrations from both parties, and knows how to bring people together to get things done. In her service to the state, she has proven time and again that she will do everything in her power to ensure the health and safety of Michigan families everywhere.”
Gordon’s departure comes amid the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations, which has come with problems including limited supply that has generated frustrations among care providers. Whitmer has blamed the limited availability of doses on the former Trump administration.
Despite the limited availability of doses, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s President Hyung Kim today complimented the state’s efforts.
“Our experience is that the state’s done a really nice job distributing the vaccine, just kind of figuring out how to make the supply work,” Kim said during an afternoon media briefing on the opening next week of DeVos Place as a large-scale vaccination clinic.
Whitmer’s announcement on Hertel’s appointment included praise from health care trade groups, including the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and the Michigan Association of Health Plans.
“Michigan Hospitals have been working around the clock to get more people vaccinated and keep our communities safe. Elizabeth is exactly the partner we need leading the state’s response to this virus, and we are eager to work closely with her moving forward,” MHA CEO Brian Peters said in the statement from the governor’s office.