KDHE Sec. Dr. Lee Norman departing agency

KDHE Sec. Dr. Lee Norman addresses the media at the Kansas Statehouse for a COVID-19 update.
KDHE Sec. Dr. Lee Norman addresses the media at the Kansas Statehouse for a COVID-19 update.
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 9:59 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One of the state’s most recognizable faces in the COVID-19 response is leaving his post.

Friday, Gov. Laura Kelly’s office announced that Dr. Lee Norman is stepping down as Secretary for the Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment.

“I want to thank Dr. Lee Norman for his service to the people of Kansas these last three years, and particularly for his leadership and his tireless efforts to fight this unprecedented pandemic,” Governor Kelly said. “From the first confirmed case until today, Dr. Norman has played a vital role within this administration to provide guidance and help steer our state’s response to the virus. His and his team’s work to keep Kansans safe during this once-in-a-century public health crisis has cemented his place as the most consequential Secretary of Health and Environment in Kansas history.”

According to the Kansas Reflector, Norman’s resignation comes months after an internal dispute with Gov. Kelly’s chief of staff Will Lawrence.

Lee Norman steps down as Kansas health secretary, months after internal dispute

Norman's departure from Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration follows months of conversations between Norman and her office about whether he was ready to leave state government.

In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic...

Deputy Secretary Ashley Goss will serve as Acting Secretary until a permanent replacement is named. Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Ximena Garcia is Acting State Health Officer and Medicaid Medical Director.

In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic...
In this Friday, May 8, 2020 photo, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly discusses the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference with Dr. Lee Norman, the state's top health administrator, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. Her orders and local orders meant to check the spread of the novel coronavirus are facing legal challenges. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

“I want to thank Governor Kelly for the privilege of serving the people of Kansas during this unique, challenging, and important moment in our state’s history,” Dr. Norman said. “I could not be more proud of each and every staff member at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For the last two years they have gone above and beyond facing unimaginable circumstances to create and execute the framework of the Kansas’ COVID-19 response strategy. While leaving was not an easy decision, I have no doubt that the leadership will maintain a seamless continuity of operations as the agency continues its transition from crisis response to steady state.”

Norman has served as KDHE Secretary since Gov. Kelly took office.

No reason for his departure was given.

According to the Governor’s Office, Norman served in the United States Air Force as a family physician, flight surgeon, and combat medicine instructor. He also served as chief medical officer for the University of Kansas Health System for more than 26 years.

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