Eight months after losing confirmation fight, Armstrong leaves DOH
Since March, when it was clear the Senate would not confirm him as state surgeon general, Dr. John Armstrong has continued to cash a paycheck while on medical leave as deputy secretary of health.
On Nov. 21, he finally left the Department of Health.
The state announced Monday that Michele Tallent will officially take over the role of deputy secretary of health for administration after holding the job on an acting basis since January.
Tallent, who previously ran DOH's budget office and was Gov. Rick Scott's top adviser on the health and human services budget, will oversee the administrative functions of DOH. Her salary is $120,999.
"(Tallent's) years of service and extensive experience with finance and management will help ensure the department’s capacity to provide essential public health services," said Dr. Celeste Philip, the current surgeon general, in a statement Monday.
Armstrong has been undergoing treatment for colon cancer diagnosed last year. He continued to receive a $119,000 paycheck and benefits while on medical leave.
The state surgeon general and secretary of health from 2012, Armstrong left the job in March of this year, facing a state Senate that would not confirm him. Some senators criticized the department's handling of medical marijuana policy, the removal of sick children from a state-run health insurance program and cutbacks in county health departments that accompanied apparent rises in new HIV cases.