COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– Dr. Amy Acton is stepping down as the director of the Ohio Department of Health.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made the announcement during his news conference on coronavirus on Thursday. Acton will stay on as an advisor to the governor and remain focused on COVID-19. According to DeWine, she will take a comprehensive and holistic approach to address the health of Ohioans.
“She has always put the health and safety of Ohioans first and foremost,” DeWine said.
Acton was appointed by DeWine in February 2019. He praised her leadership and credited her with saving countless lives during the pandemic.
“It’s true not all heroes wear capes, some in fact wear white coats embossed with the name Dr. Amy Acton,” DeWine said. “Dr. Acton, thank you for your great, great service.”
Acton said this was a position she never expected in her career. She joked about the analogies she’s used during these news conference, like Swiss cheese and eye of the storm. She said the virus disrupted our lives, but forced us to learn and innovate.
“To Ohioans, Ohioans, you have saved lives. You’ve done this. It is my honor to continue to work on this alongside you and to witness what you have done already, what you are doing right now to get back into our lives and do so as safely as you can, and I look forward to witnessing what you are going to do next,” Acton said.
Acton gained national attention for her calm demeanor, willingness to show emotion and not shying away from bad news. She was the feature of a New York Times opinion video called “The Leader We All Wish We Had.” Tributes to the doctor popped up all over social media, including Lego sets, Easter eggs and children dressing up as the state’s top doctor. She is the first doctor appointed to lead the state’s health department.
But there was also resistance to DeWine and Acton’s policies. People gathered outside the Ohio Statehouse to protest the stay-at-home orders, which closed some businesses for more than two months. There were even protesters outside her home. Over the last few weeks, the two state officials have also face lawsuits from groups of gym owners and restaurant owners.
Acton, who has been open about overcoming abuse and homelessness, is a licensed physician with more than 30 years of experience in community service and health care policy. She did her internship and residency training in pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She’s also been a professor at he Ohio State University College of Public Health.