Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is nominating Dr. Manisha Juthani to serve as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Dr. Juthani is an infectious diseases physician at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, where she specializes in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infections in older adults. Her most recent area of interest is at the interface of infectious diseases and palliative care, including the role of antibiotics at the end of life.
She completed her undergraduate training at the University of Pennsylvania, attended Cornell University Medical College, completed residency training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Campus, and was a chief resident at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She arrived at Yale School of Medicine in 2002 for infectious diseases fellowship training and joined the faculty full-time in 2006. She assumed the role of infectious diseases fellowship program director in 2012.
“Dr. Juthani’s background in infectious diseases will be a tremendous benefit to the people of Connecticut as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen our vaccination efforts,” Governor Lamont said. “When seeking candidates to serve in this role, Dr. Juthani came recommended by many top experts in this field, and I am thrilled to have her join our administration. I’m incredibly proud that Connecticut is among the leading states in vaccinating our residents, but as this pandemic continues, we need to implement sound policies that will keep the rates of transmission as low as possible.”
“I am grateful to the civil servants at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Dr. Gifford, and Governor Lamont for leading us through this pandemic to date,” Dr. Juthani said. “Under Dr. Gifford’s leadership, I look forward to continuing their efforts related to COVID-19, mental health, health equity, health disparities, and access to healthcare going forward.”
In accepting the nomination, Dr. Juthani will succeed Dr. Deidre Gifford as head of the state’s public health agency. For the last 14 months, Dr. Gifford has been serving dual roles within the Lamont administration. Although her primary position is as commissioner of the Department of Social Services, in May 2020 she agreed to also serve as commissioner of the Department of Public Health in an acting capacity while a search was underway to permanently fill the position.
Governor Lamont said that Dr. Gifford’s dedication to the residents of Connecticut throughout the pandemic and her leadership skills in managing two state agencies during such a trying time have been extraordinary. That is why he announced today that as she transitions away from the Department of Public Health, he is tasking Dr. Gifford with the additional duty of serving as Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services.
In this new role, Dr. Gifford will be tasked with coordinating a multi-agency approach among the state’s nine health and human services agencies to improving health and healthcare in Connecticut. Governor Lamont explained that these nine agencies serve many overlapping populations and provide similar programs and functions, however they often are not optimally coordinated. As Senior Advisor to the Governor for Health and Human Services, Dr. Gifford will convene and lead coordination efforts between these agencies, working closely with the Office of Policy and Management, as well as provide the governor with policy input and recommendations that address issues of health, healthcare costs, quality, and disparities.
Although she is taking on this added responsibility, Dr. Gifford’s primary role in the administration will continue to be as commissioner of the Department of Social Services. The commissioners of the nine health and human service agencies will maintain all statutorily defined responsibilities and authorities.
“I cannot emphasize enough how thankful I am to have Deidre as part of our team,” Governor Lamont said. “She has been a consistent source of reason and guidance as we’ve tried our best to implement decisions that are in the best interests of public health during this global pandemic. Our response also demonstrated the positive impact we can have when our agencies work together closely to tackle difficult challenges, and we now need to expand these partnerships to tackle healthcare affordability, access, and health disparities. Deidre’s expertise and collaborative approach make her the perfect person to coordinate our work in these areas as Senior Advisor to the Governor.”
Dr. Juthani will begin at the Department of Public Health on Monday, September 20, 2021. On this date, Dr. Gifford will transition back to solely leading the Department of Social Services, while maintaining a close connection with Dr. Juthani to provide counsel as the response to the pandemic continues.
“I welcome Dr. Juthani to our team, and I am delighted to pass the reins of the Department of Public Health into her capable hands,” Dr. Gifford said. “She joins a dedicated and skilled group of leaders at the department, whose work and dedication to public health over the last year have been exemplary. Since joining the Lamont administration in May of 2019, it has been my privilege to work with an extraordinarily generous and talented group of human services commissioners. I am honored to take on the role of Senior Advisor to the Governor, and look forward to more work with my colleagues to improve health and healthcare for every Connecticut resident.”
The state’s nine health and human services agencies include:
- Department of Aging and Disability Services
- Department of Children and Families
- Department of Developmental Services
- Office of Early Childhood
- Office of Health Strategy
- Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
- Department of Public Health
- Department of Social Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs