SF Health Department chief taking new job in Los Angeles

It’s official: Mitch Katz, Director of the San Francisco Health Department, is leaving.

Wednesday morning, he sent out an e-mail to his staff announcing his departure come January. “Twenty-four years after starting as an intern in the emergency department of San Francisco General Hospital, I will be leaving our Department the first week of January to become the Director of the Los Angeles Health Services Department,” Katz said.

The e-mail was sent after Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that Barbara Garcia would be the new health director, pending Katz’s decision to leave. “No one is better prepared or more in touch with The City’s public health needs and community than Barbara Garcia,” said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for Newsom. “She certainly has big shoes to fill.”

Barbara Garcia has been the Deputy Director of Health since 1999.  She is responsible for Community Programs, a $320 million division with more than 2,000 civil service employees and more than 150 community-based organizations delivering Primary Care, Behavioral Health, HIV/AIDS, Maternal and Child Health, Prevention and Health Promotion, Housing and Urban Health, Indigent Health, and Placement services.

While in this position, she has implemented innovative programs to meet the mayor’s priorities to reduce homelessness and violence, including a medically supervised sobering center and intensive case management program for public inebriates, citywide homeless outreach teams, violence response teams and supportive housing.

Katz ended by saying he doesn’t like goodbyes. “I will be in the same state, on the same coast, working on the same issues. That being said, we will have opportunities between now and my leaving to celebrate all we have achieved together,” Katz said.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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