McMaster praises health department board’s choice for new leader

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 5:39 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster released a statement Tuesday morning shortly after the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control announced their pick for a new director.

During a meeting Tuesday morning, board members unanimously voted for Dr. Edward Simmer, a Navy veteran, to become the agency’s next executive director.

Board members noted Simmer’s leadership experience and his plan to tackle health disparities in the state’s rural communities.

“Dr. Simmer’s service and professional qualifications are remarkable, his career and achievements demonstrate the proven leadership and management skills required to direct the Department of Health and Environmental Control,” McMaster said in a statement. “The board has made an excellent choice and it’s my hope the Senate will confirm Dr. Simmer as quickly as possible.”

Simmer currently serves as Chief Medical Officer, TRICARE Health Plan, and will be retiring from the Navy on Dec. 31, a release from DHEC states. Previously, he served as Commanding Officer and CEO at the Naval Hospital in Oak Harbor, Washington. Simmer holds over 25 years of extensive clinical leadership and team-building experience including transforming a large health care system.

“2020 has emphasized the importance of the work being done by DHEC employees each day. The selection of Dr. Edward Simmer to serve as the director of DHEC reaffirms the Board’s commitment to promoting and protecting the health and safety of all South Carolinians, and the communities where they live, work and play,” DHEC Board Chairman Mark Elam said. “Dr. Simmer’s experience in management through his over 30 year naval career, long time residency in Beaufort and proven leadership skills will serve the agency, its many talented and dedicated staff and the people of South Carolina well.”

The DHEC director is selected by the board to serve a four-year term. Simmer must be confirmed by the state Senate when it reconvenes in January.

If he is confirmed, Simmer would replace former DHEC director Rick Toomey, who resigned in June.

As part of the selection process, a nationwide search was conducted. Eighty-three applications were received as of Monday. Applications were reviewed and interviews were conducted.

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