Gov. DeWine’s Pick for New State Health Director Withdraws Her Name from Consideration


The doctor named by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to be the state’s new health director has withdrawn her name from consideration.

The move came just hours after DeWine announced that he’d chosen Dr. Joan Duwve to take the position. The governor announced the decision on Twitter stating that Duwve cited “personal reasons” for the decision and that his office would continue searching for a full-time replacement.

Duwve was supposed to take over for former Health Director Amy Acton who left the position in June amid growing criticism for the handling of the COVID-19 situation. Acton’s home was the scene of several protests with citizens showing to voice their discontent about restrictions and the state’s response to the pandemic, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

In a Thursday press conference, DeWine described Duwve as a “native Ohioan medical doctor,” with “extensive experience with public health.” Previously, Duwve served as South Carolina’s Director of Public Health and as the chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Health.

DeWine said he thought Duwve was “spot on” after reviewing her resume and finding her views on problems facing the state like suicide and “children’s issues.” Duwve was scheduled to start somewhere around October 1.

On Twitter,  DeWine continued to praise Duwve pointing to both her experience and her academic background.

Duwve’s appointment was not without criticism, as some Ohioans criticized her past with Planned Parenthood. Aaron Baer who is the president of Citizens for Community Values,  questioned how a former Planned Parenthood volunteer coordinator would become Ohio’s next health director.

“There is no corporation that shows less regard for the health and safety of women and unborn children than Planned Parenthood,” he tweeted.

DeWine’s appointment is the first step in the approval process for choosing Ohio’s next health director. To officially become health director, the nominee has to be approved by the state Senate, which one member thinks would not have happened for Duwve.

State Senator Andrew Brenner (R-19) told The Star “it is my belief that the chamber would have turned her down by a very close vote.” Furthermore, state Senator Kristina Roegner (R-27) told The Ohio Star. “I, personally, would have had a hard time approving her because of her stance on abortion and affiliation with Planned Parenthood.”

Lance Himes will remain interim director, a post he took after Acton resigned from June 11. Acton stepped into the role as chief health advisor to Governor DeWine – a position he added in the middle of a state freeze on hiring – where she was paid a $236,000 salary. Acton stepped away for good on August 4 and returned to The Columbus Foundation, her last stop before the ODH.

Senate President Larry Obhof was contacted for comment but had not returned the request before press time.

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Ben Kolodny is a reporter for The Ohio Star and the Star News Network. Follow Ben on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected] Jack Windsor is Managing Editor and an Investigative Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an Investigative Reporter at WMFD-TV. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Dr. Joan Duwve” by Ball State University.








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