Dr. Karyl Rattay leaving Division of Public Health

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As director, Dr. Rattay led nearly 1,000 employees who promote health, reduce health inequities, and protect Delawareans from disease, environmental hazards, and public health emergencies.

DOVER (DE) BY DIGITAL STAFF: Dr. Karyl Rattay who had led the Division of Public Health since 2009, announced late last week that she will be leaving her role as Director of the Division effective June 30, 2022.  Dr. Rattay assumed her position in 2009, during the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and is the nation’s longest serving Public Health Director.

The announcement came Wednesday May 13, 2022.

As director, Dr. Rattay led nearly 1,000 employees who promote health, reduce health inequities, and protect Delawareans from disease, environmental hazards, and public health emergencies.

“It has been the greatest honor of my lifetime to serve Delawareans in this role, said Dr. Rattay. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served under Governor Carney, and Governor Markell before him.  I could not be prouder of the DPH team and what we have accomplished together over the past 13 years.”

“When you work with someone through a crisis, you really see what they’re made of. Dr. Rattay is smart, steady, focused, and committed,” said Governor John Carney. Most importantly though, she is kind and compassionate. Her style of leadership and her work ethic are what helped Delaware make it through this pandemic. And the work Dr. Rattay did at Public Health in the decade leading up to the pandemic is why her team was ready and able to step up and manage this crisis. We will miss Dr. Rattay as a member of our team and I am personally grateful to her for all she did to lead us through this once-in-a-generation public health crisis.”

“In her 13 years as our Director of the Division of Public Health, Dr. Karyl Rattay has been driven by a singular focus: How could she and her team improve and protect the health and well-being of the Delawareans they serve,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Molly Magarik. “Her values, her work ethic and her passion for this work have never wavered. She believes in meeting communities where they are, listening to stakeholders across the spectrum, and building public health responses that are tailored to the populations we are serving. On behalf of the employees of DHSS and the people of Delaware, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Rattay her leadership, her innovative spirit, and her commitment to our state.”

According to the release, Dr. Rattay says leading the state through the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years – the greatest public health crisis in a century – has tested those in public health departments professionally and personally. She indicated that while she is not ready to announce her next role, she is excited about the new opportunities in front of her and believes this is a good time to transition the Division to its next leader.

During her tenure at DPH Dr. Rattay and her team have:

  • Succeeded in becoming one of the first 16 states in the nation to achieve and maintain full accreditation from the national Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).
  • Launched the State’s first Health Improvement Plan and multi-year agency strategic plans.
  • Significantly reduced infant mortality rates by nearly 30% from 2015 -2019 through close collaboration with many maternal and child health partners, and a 25% reduction in unintended pregnancies through the Delaware Contraceptives Access Now (Delaware CAN) initiative.
  • Saw a 14% reduction in cancer mortality rates through a comprehensive statewide prevention, screening, and treatment initiative.
  • Worked with the legislature to pass a bill increasing the age to buy tobacco products to 21 and adding e-cigarettes to Delaware’s Clean Indoor Air Act.
  • In conjunction with the University of Delaware and Delaware Community Foundation, spearheaded the creation of the Healthy Communities Delaware (HCD) initiative – a placed-based partnership with communities to address their most important social determinants of health.
  • Played the state’s leading role in responding to multiple health threats, including COVID-19, H1N1, Superstorm Sandy, Ebola, Zika virus, Tuberculosis outbreaks and others.
  • Launched the My Healthy Community data portal in 2019, bringing Delaware public health data down to the ZIP code level, including community characteristics, the environment, chronic disease, and mental health and substance use, air quality, asthma incidence data, public and private drinking water results, and drug overdose and death data. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Division of Public Health used My Healthy Community to report COVID-19 data, again down to the ZIP code level in many cases. It was one of the most robust COVID-19 data sites in the country.
  • Assumed a leadership role in addressing the state’s opioid crisis.
  • Added the Medical Marijuana Program in 2014 to administer medical marijuana cards for eligible Delawareans and to license and oversee compassion centers in all three counties.
  • Added the Office of Animal Welfare in 2013 based on the recommendations of the General Assembly Animal Welfare Task Force as a way to consolidate and coordinate animal companion programs in Delaware

Dr. Rattay has earned multiple honors and awards. In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Arthur T. McCormack Award by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) for her leadership and contributions as a state health official.  She also received the Vision of Peace award from the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the Health Professional of the Year award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness; the President’s Award three times from former Medical Society of Delaware presidents; the Medal of Honor Award from atTAcK addiction and was honored by Governor Carney as the longest-serving state health official in the nation.

She has been named as one of “Delaware’s Most Influential” individuals for 2020 and 2021. Dr. Rattay chairs the Healthy Babies Subcommittee for ASTHO and is a Board member of ASTHO and the Public Health Foundation. She is the Chair of Delaware’s Addiction Action Committee, Co-Chair of the Overdose System of Care Committee, and a current member and former president of the Delaware Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline.

Dr. Rattay earned a Medical Doctorate from the Medical University of Ohio in 1992 and a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Maryland in 2001. She completed her Pediatric Residency at Georgetown University and a Preventive Medicine and Public Health Residency training program at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Rattay is board-certified in pediatrics and practiced pediatrics for 14 years. Between September 2001 and June 2004, she served as a senior public health advisor to the U.S. Surgeon General and Assistant Secretary of Health in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Department of Health and Human Services, where she had a leadership role in the President’s Healthier U.S. Initiative.

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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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