Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced the appointment of a new Department of Health secretary on Wednesday.
In a statement, Lujan Grisham said she was “thrilled to welcome” Dr. Tracie Collins as the New Mexico Department of Health secretary-designate.
“New Mexico has never needed experienced and compassionate public health leadership more than right now,” Lujan Grisham said. “Dr. Collins will hit the ground running as part of our state’s COVID-19 response effort with the Department of Health and indeed all of state government.”
Collins is currently the dean of Population Health at the University of New Mexico and according to the governor’s office announcement has served in a variety of public health in the world of academia.
Collins, in a statement through the governor’s office, said she is ready to start working with staff at the DOH to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a very challenging time for all of us,” Collins said. “There is much work to be done to ensure the health and safety of New Mexicans. But I know the dedicated professionals of the Department of Health, and the many health care leaders throughout our state, are going to continue working tirelessly to address the needs of our diverse communities, both in this current crisis and beyond.”
Collins’ appointment comes months after former health secretary Kathyleen Kunkel announced her retirement. The department’s legal counsel Billy Jimenez served as acting secretary after Kunkel left. According to the governor’s office, Jimenez will resume his duties as legal counsel.
The announcement also comes during a time or record-setting numbers of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in New Mexico.