FRIDAY. Feb. 12 — The state of Michigan now has a full-time chief executive medical officer.
City Pulse broke the story Tuesday that Dr. Eden Wells, who is overseeing the medical response to the Flint water crisis, was only working half time since her appointment in April 2015, despite a requirement in the Public Health Code that the position needed to be full time.
“Effective February 1, 2016, Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services was appointed to a full-time position,” reads the release from DHHS. She will answer to Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyons
It did not disclose her salary, but MIRS reported she will be paid $184,000 a year, according to DHHS spokeswoman Jennifer Eisner.
“This change was made to more accurately reflect Dr. Wells’ work for the department and Michigan residents,” the release continued.
The release acknowledged that Wells was “technically a part-time employee.”
Eisner said Wells will take a leave of absence from the University of Michigan, where she was a professor of epidemiology and director of the Preventive Medicine Residency Program for the medical school.
Wells was appointed part-time medical officer after Lyons was named DHHS director in April. Lyons is not a physician, and the health code requires that if the department director is not a doctor, then there must a full-time chief medical officer.
U of M spokesman Rick Fitzgerald confirmed to City Pulse on Monday that Wells was a full-time U of M employee. This contradicts a statement made Monday by University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. He said Wells was a full-time employee who split her time 50-50 between university responsibilities and state responsibilities
Critics immediately jumped on the news, saying it reflected both a lack of transparency and insufficient dedication to health issues by the Snyder administration.
“Given the current public health crisis, it's now more important than ever that Michigan reprioritize its commitment to ensuring we have healthy communities regardless of the cost," Lonnie Scott, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan, earlier in the week.