On Monday, County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric McDonald was appointed Interim Commissioner of Health and Human Services. The appointment came about as a replacement for outgoing Nick Macchione. McDonald will serve in this position until 2024, according to a county statement. The county is currently conducting extensive local engagement to determine what the community wants from HHSA’s next leader. The agency has over 8,000 employees and directly serves more than one-third of the local population.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbinsmeier, McDonald’s leadership qualities make him an excellent candidate for the position. She stated that he is community-focused and inspires confidence, making him an ideal fit for day-to-day activities and emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. Nora Vargas, chairman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, also expressed her positive view of McDonald’s appointment, and looked forward to working with him.
Before his appointment, McDonald served as the county health officer, having worked with the public health department since 2009. He held several positions at the department, including Medical Director of the Epidemiology and Immunization Services Division. McDonald’s experience with the county’s COVID-19 response has given him extensive knowledge about how to keep the community safe.
Machione, who resigned in May, served the county for 26 years and served as HHSA Commissioner for 15 years. His resignation was part of a series of reforms happening within the county government. In October 2022, Robbinsmeier announced her retirement, but at the request of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nora Vargas, she will continue as interim CAO for another six months. Following the resignation of disgraced county superintendent Nathan Fletcher, a special election will be held on August 15 to replace him.