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State health commissioner leaving for CDC

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Dr. Judy Monroe, Indiana’s state health commissioner, will step down March 8 to become deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monroe, a former Indianapolis family physician in the St. Vincent Health network, led the state’s public health efforts for five years after being appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in March 2005.

Until Daniels appoints a new commissioner, Loren Robertson, deputy health commissioner, will fill Monroe’s job on an interim basis.

Under Monroe’s oversight, the state created a hospital-errors reporting system, which has helped reduce the prevalence of severe bed sores, and the INShape Indiana initiative, which aimed to lower smoking and obesity rates and improve physical activity rates.

The results of the INShape Indiana effort have been mixed. From 2004 to 2009, the percentage of Hoosier adults who were obese rose from 26 percent to 26.9 percent. But, according to data compiled by the UnitedHealth Foundation, Indiana’s ranking among states did improve during that time frame.

The percentage of adults who smoke held steady at 26 percent, although Indiana’s ranking slipped compared with other states.

The percentage of adults exercising each month fell from nearly 75 percent in 2004 to 72 percent in 2008, according to data from the Indiana State Department of Health.

Lastly, the percentage of children with the complete set of immunizations dipped slightly, from 79 percent in 2004 to 78.4 percent last year. But Indiana’s ranking improved compared with other states, according to the UnitedHealth Foundation.

“I’ll leave Indiana with a great sense of pride and gratitude,” Monroe said in a statement. “Fortunately, I will continue to be involved with the health departments in my new position.”

Her new job will take Monroe to the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. From there she will manage three divisions of the CDC and oversee the deployment of CDC resources in state, local, territorial, and tribal public health agencies.
 

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