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NEW: Public Health Commissioner Resigns Following Crime Lab Controversy

Monday, September 17, 2012

 

John Auerbach

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach resigned today at the request of Governor Deval Patrick.

The Commissioner came under fire after a chemist at a state crime lab in Jamaica Plane tampered with an estimated 60,000 drug samples. Auerbach released the following statement upon his resignation:


“It is with deep regret and with a sense of responsibility to uphold the high ideals Governor Patrick demands that I announce today my resignation as Commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

“It is clear that there was insufficient quality monitoring, reporting and investigating on the part of supervisors and managers surrounding the former Department of Public Health drug lab in Jamaica Plain – and ultimately, as Commissioner, the buck stops with me.

“What happened at the drug lab was unacceptable and the impact on people across the state may be devastating, particularly for some within the criminal justice system. We owe it to ourselves and the public to make sure we understand exactly how and why this happened. I will continue to work with investigators to make sure we find answers and accept responsibility.

“The behaviors of the drug lab chemist and the failure to properly manage and supervise her work are unacceptable. But I know they do not represent the work of the rest of the staff at the Department of Public Health. My colleagues take seriously their responsibility to help make Massachusetts a better place and are as upset with what happened as everyone else. It has been my great honor and privilege to work together with them.

“In the past six years, the work of the Department of Public Health has had a significant, positive impact on public health and I am proud of these accomplishments, including: launching Mass in Motion, a major initiative to combat obesity and promote wellness; strengthening efforts to prevent chronic and infectious diseases; heightening efforts to combat substance abuse; successfully implementing sports head injury regulations and strengthening the Department’s focus on perinatal health outcomes. These efforts have lead to the lowest rates of HIV infections and deaths in decades, a decrease in the rise of opiate overdose deaths and holding the line on childhood obesity.

“I thank Secretary Bigby for her leadership and principled commitment to promoting the health of residents of the Commonwealth. I offer my deep appreciation to the Governor for the opportunity to have held this position and I look forward to continuing my work to promote public health in my future endeavors.”  

 

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