Dr. Steven Stack, Lexington emergency physician and 2016 AMA president, named to lead state Department for Public Health

Dr. Steven Stack
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Dr. Steven Stack of Lexington, an emergency physician and the 2016 president of the American Medical Association, will be the new commissioner of the state Department for Public Health. He will start work Feb. 10.

State law requires the health commissioner to be a physican. Acting Health Secretary Eric Friedlander said Stack is a seasoned health-care policy advocate and educator.

“Steven has almost 20 years of years of clinical, operational and management experience to help guide our state Department for Public Health staff and galvanize both its assistance programs and educational efforts. He is an excellent choice to modernize our state’s public health services,” Friedlander said in a press release.

Stack takes over the department at a time when it is asking lawmakers to approve a major system overhaul, which also includes changes in how local health departments would be funded. In addition, dozens of local departments are facing pension challenges that could force big cuts in services.

“I am proud to be a part of health programming that is innovative, accountable and focused on making Kentuckians’ lives better,” Stack said in the release. “Our state health officials are here to support and enhance local health department. We can’t forget that health care is local, and we have to balance a practice of targeting the right care with the approach of maximizing our state and federal resources.”

Stack is an emergency physician at Saint Joseph Hospital East in Lexington. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee‘s business college. He has served as a councilor (trustee) and advocacy workgroup chair of the World Medical Association. He served 13 years as a member of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s Emergency Medical Advisory Board.

Stack will replace Dr. Angela Dearinger, who was appointed in August. She was the third physician to hold the position in the previous administration of Republican governor Matt Bevin, whom Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly ousted in the November election. She will return to the University of Kentucky as assistant dean of its College of Medicine, says the release.

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