SAN DIEGO (CNS) — County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric McDonald was Monday named interim Health and Human Services Agency director by Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer, replacing the outgoing Nick Macchione.
According to a county statement, McDonald is expected to hold the position into 2024 as the county "conducts extensive local engagement about what the community is seeking in the next leader of HHSA." The agency has nearly 8,000 employees who directly provide services to more than a third of the region's residents.
"Having worked with Dr. McDonald for more than 10 years, I have personally experienced his calm, insightful leadership," Robbins-Meyer said. "He is community focused and inspires confidence as we undertake everyday activities and during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful he has agreed to step in and provide his vision as we chart the course for the agency's future."
McDonald and County Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten were among the most visible people responding to the pandemic.
"Dr. McDonald was instrumental in keeping our communities safe during our county's COVID-19 response, and I am excited to see him step in as interim leader," said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas. "I'm eager to get to work with our community partners and my colleagues on the Board to support the CAO's search for a future agency director."
McDonald served for 24 years in the U.S. Navy before joining the county in 2015 as a deputy public health officer. In 2015, he became the medical director of Epidemiology and Immunization Services and was promoted in 2021 as the agency's chief medical officer and director of the newly established Medical Care Services Department.
"I am very honored to accept this interim position as our agency and the county experience leadership transitions on several fronts," he said. "My focus will be on ensuring the incredible positive momentum continues in the agency's work with the community to improve wellbeing for all San Diegans, delivering services and solving problems in an evidence-based way."
Macchione announced his resignation from the county agency on May 31 to become chief health officer of community health for UC San Diego Health. Macchione, who worked for the county for 26 years and spent 15 years as the head of the HHSA, will take on the new role June 28.
The move was the latest in a series of shakeups at county government.
After 12 years in the position, Robbins-Meyer was expected to leave in April after announcing her retirement in October 2022. However, at the request of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, Robbins-Meyer will stay on as interim CAO for another six months.
Additionally, following the resignation of disgraced County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the five-member board is down to just four, split along ideological lines.
A special election will be held to replace Fletcher on Aug. 15.