NewsCovering Louisiana


Guidry to retire; changes coming at LDH

Posted at 10:13 AM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 11:13:02-05

After more than 30 years with the Louisiana Department of Health, Dr. Jimmy Guidry is retiring.

Guidry, who is State Health Officer and Medical Director for LDH, will retire at the end of the year. During those 30 years, Guidry also served as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Public Health and the Acadiana Region’s Medical Director. His 24 years as State Health Officer is the longest tenure for this role in Louisiana history.

“Thank you to Dr. Guidry for his tremendous work on the behalf of all Louisianans. He has worked tirelessly for the people of Louisiana through many catastrophes, among them Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Laura and Delta, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the great floods of 2016 and the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health.
"As we prepare to close this extraordinary year, I am grateful that Dr. Guidry can retire knowing that we hold the COVID-19 vaccine — the first step toward ending the pandemic — in our hands. Though we will greatly miss his warmth and wisdom, we truly wish him all the best as he closes this chapter of his life,” Phillips added.

Assistant State Health Officer and Region One Medical Director Dr. Joseph Kanter, who also is currently serving as Interim Secretary for the Office of Public Health, will serve as the next State Health Officer and LDH Medical Officer. He will continue assisting as Interim OPH Assistant Secretary as LDH continues recruitment efforts to fill this role permanently.

Dr. Shantel Hébert-Magee will serve as the new Regional Medical Director for Region One, the Greater New Orleans area. A physician, health policy advisor and minority health strategist, she currently serves as the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Laboratory Director for the Office of Public Health. As a clinical pathologist and researcher, she has focused her clinical-effectiveness and device-development research on addressing early detection and diagnosis of pancreatic and biliary malignancies. She is the founder of Under the Scope Foundation, Inc. a 501(c)(3) examining the intersection between technology, health access and education to mitigate the sociobehavioral and environmental factors associated with disease in underserved communities.

Hébert-Magee is a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy in New Orleans. She completed her undergraduate studies at Clark Atlanta University, earned a medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and an MPH in health policy from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"With extensive expertise in issues of minority health and health access, Dr. Hebert-Magee is uniquely qualified to meet the complex health needs of the New Orleans area where she was born and raised. We are truly excited for her to step into this position of leadership and to see her making a positive difference in the lives of Louisianans," said Phillips.

Other changes are on the way in LDH.

Doris Brown will retire as Executive Director of the Bureau of Community Preparedness (BCP) on January 4, 2021. Starting as a public health nurse in 1980, Brown has dedicated 40 years of service to the State of Louisiana. Under her leadership, BCP has coordinated responses to emergency events and earned the prestigious Public Health Ready designation. She has been instrumental in Louisiana's image as one of the most resilient states in the nation and is the driving force behind the development and establishment of Louisiana Volunteers in Action (LAVA). She is the recipient of the State's highest honor for classified state employees, the Charles E. Dunbar Award, is a Robert Wood Johnson Nursing Fellow and an inductee of the Louisiana Nursing Hall of Fame.

"We cannot thank Doris enough for her exceptional leadership through times of trial and, just as crucially, through times of calm. From storms and hurricanes to floods and the present pandemic, as well as the spaces in between where she coordinated emergency readiness for such disasters, her steady guidance has been instrumental in Louisiana's image as a state of unyielding resilience. Her 40 years of service are a shining example of public service and a lasting legacy for Louisiana's ability to respond and recover from disasters and emergencies," Phillips said.

Dr. Sundee Winder will serve as Interim Director of the Bureau of Community Preparedness as LDH actively recruits a permanent successor.

Effective January 1, 2021, Executive Counsel Stephen Russo will fill the newly created role of Director of Legal, Audit and Regulatory Affairs. Russo brings more than 20 years of experience with LDH to this position and has served in his current capacity since approximately 2008. In his new role, Russo will be responsible for the merging of the Bureau of Legal Services, the Health Standards Section, Program Integrity and Internal Audit under a single umbrella.

“Steve demonstrated sound, steady leadership during his brief tenure as Interim Secretary earlier this year,” said Phillips. "I have every confidence that he will bring this leadership to his new role overseeing Legal, Audit and Regulatory Affairs. This merger will streamline operations and improve communication and collaboration between staff who work with contractors, healthcare providers and service recipients in Louisiana."

At this time, Russo's senior report team members include:

  • Kimberly Humbles, General Counsel of the Bureau of Legal Services,
  • Cecile Castello, Director of the Health Standards Section, and
  • Jarrod Coniglio, Interim Director of Program Integrity and Internal Audit.

Coniglio began his role December 1 following the retirement of Internal Auditor Virginia Brandt on November 30. He will serve while the Department seeks a permanent successor.
Jen Katzman, Deputy Director of Policy, Waiver and Public Affairs for Medicaid, has taken on the role of Senior Staff Advisor in an interim capacity after the departure of Erin Campbell. Kelly Zimmerman has moved into the Interim Deputy Director position over Policy, Waiver and Public Affairs.