A great honor for Class of ’84 alum Amy (Stearns) Acton!
Link to original article, Originally released Feb 26, 2019
By Jeremy Pelzer, cleveland.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday filled the final vacancy in his cabinet, naming Dr. Amy Acton of suburban Bexley as his choice to lead the Ohio Department of Health.
Acton, who most recently served assenata community research and grants administrator at the non-profit Columbus Foundation, vowed at a news conference to tackle a wide-ranging list of public health issues, from substance abuse to youth health.
“There are a lot of innovative programs that I’d love to explore,” said Acton, pointing to Rwanda’s low-tech efforts to curb infant mortality – a major ongoing problem in Ohio – by deploying community-health workers and offering training to members of the public.
Acton also said she wants to launch a statewide effort to reduce youth homelessness by having the state partner with nonprofits around the state. Youth homelessness is an issue that’s “near and dear to my heart,” she said, as it’s something she experienced herself as a child.
“Honestly, this is something we can get our arms around,” she said of the youth homelessness problem.
Acton has a medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Universities and a master’s degree in public health from Ohio State University. She lives in Bexley with her husband and six children.
She will oversee a department with about 1,100 employees. The department oversees efforts ranging from controlling the spread of infectious diseases to overseeing health-care facilities.
Under ex-Gov. John Kasich, the department also played a high-profile role in shutting down a number of abortion clinics around the state, thanks to tough regulations passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
When Acton was asked what her stance is on abortion, the 30-year public health veteran said she didn’t have one.
“I definitely am here to follow the law – the law of the state of Ohio,” she said.
DeWine told reporters that he intends to “elevate the profile” of the Ohio Department of Health to address many of the issues his administration has been focused on, including the opioid epidemic and early childhood development.
The governor said he wanted to name a health department director who is a doctor or nurse, has a background in public health, and would use the “bully pulpit” of the office to advocate for health-related issues.
“It took a while to find the right person,” DeWine said. “This is the right person.”