Nobody doubts that when Dr. Maxine Hayes retires at the end of this year she’ll still be giving advice about how to avoid catching the flu.
“Wash your hands!” the state health officer is fond of saying at this time of year. For 16 years, Hayes has advised governors and secretaries of health not only on influenza outbreaks, but on a wide variety of public-health issues, including disease investigation, health promotion, chronic disease prevention, and emergency response.
“Maxine has served our agency, the people of our state, and the public-health system incredibly well and will be greatly missed,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman in a statement. “She’s well-known and admired on a national level, and we’re grateful to have had such a wonderful leader and champion of public health in our midst for all of these years.”
Dr. Kathy Lofy, an agency medical epidemiologist, will serve as acting state health officer beginning Jan. 1. As a consultant to the health department’s offices of communicable disease epidemiology and infectious disease, Lofy oversees influenza surveillance. She is the state’s former epidemic intelligence service officer and foodborne disease epidemiologist.
“We’re fortunate to have someone of Kathy’s background, skill, and caliber right here in the agency willing to step up while we work on a long-term solution for this crucial state position,” Wiesman said.
The agency is recruiting candidates for the permanent state health officer position.
Hayes, a native of Jackson, Mississippi, is a board-certified pediatrician with a master’s in public health. Considered one of the nation’s top maternal child-health experts, one of her main interests has been early childhood health.
She is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a faculty member at the University of Washington School of Public Health, a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Institute of Medicine.