Rick Hodges, AHS ‘82 and an Archbold native, was named director of the Ohio Department of Health on Friday, Aug. 1, by John Kasich, governor.
Since 2011, Hodges served in another appointed post: the head of the Ohio Turnpike & Infrastructure Commission.
He has served as Fulton County treasurer, an Ohio state representative, and in several administrative roles in the public and private sectors.
Among the administrative jobs he held included posts at the Fulton County Health Center and Community Hospitals & Wellness Centers-Bryan.
He holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration.
Hodges’ appointment to the health department post has been criticized.
State law requires the director of the Ohio Department of Health be a medical doctor or “an individual who has had significant experience in the public health profession.”
Critics say Hodges’ posts at FCHC and CHWC, plus experience with a group representing self-insured corporations, does not meet the “significant experience” guideline.
Rob Nichols, the governor’s press secretary, called criticism of Hodges’s appointment political.
“Of course we know that he’s qualified or we never would have appointed him, but to give credence to the predictable, shrill attacks from partisan activists like these is puzzling,” said Nichols.
“The health of the people of this state deserves to be above politics, and this decision has already been supported by some of the most qualified health care professionals in the state.”
In the press release announcing Hodges’ appointment, officials with the governor’s office also announced the appointment of Mary Applegate, medical director at the Ohio Department of Medicaid, as interim medical director.
“Dr. Applegate’s medical expertise will allow her to support Rick by focusing on medical issues and assisting him in recruiting an expert clinical team,” the release states.–David Pugh