West Virginia health officer taking March of Dimes job

September 18, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s state health officer is leaving to take a job with the March of Dimes.

The Department of Health and Human Resources announced Dr. Rahul Gupta’s departure in a news release Tuesday. His resignation is effective Nov. 5.

The statement said Gupta was named the March of Dimes’ senior vice president and chief medical and health officer. He will be based in Arlington, Virginia.

The March of Dimes said on Twitter that Gupta will provide leadership for efforts to improve the health of mothers and babies. The nonprofit March of Dimes works to prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

“For me it’s time to look at bold and creative ways in which we address these crises,” Gupta said in a telephone interview. “The results may not happen today but they will help us obtain those results in a thoughtful, innovative and strategic manner.”

Before becoming health officer in January 2015, Gupta served as executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. He played a key role in studying health issues from the aftermath of a 2014 chemical spill in Charleston that tainted drinking water for 300,000 people. He also had criticized the state for trying to use other explanations for post-spill health concerns and was particularly vocal about the need for long-term health monitoring for the affected nine-county region.

More recently Gupta offered guidance during an ongoing hepatitis A outbreak statewide.

He’s also addressed the opioid crisis in a state that leads the nation by far in the rate of drug overdose deaths. Gupta has suggested the amount of prescription drugs should be limited during any one visit to a pharmacist. He also has said education about substance abuse should start early and it is important to get some people into treatment after an overdose.

DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch said Gupta “has been an integral part of this administration, especially with his many contributions toward solving the drug epidemic in our state. His commitment to the health and well-being of the people of the Mountain State is unwavering.”

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