CHARLESTON — Dr. Ayne Amjad, the health official who helped guide West Virginia through most of the COVID-19 pandemic, is stepping down from her role but will continue to advise Gov. Jim Justice.
The Justice Department announced Tuesday in a virtual briefing with reporters at the State Capitol that Amjad will be stepping down as State Health Officer and Commissioner of Public Health in the Department of Health and Human Resources once a permanent successor has been appointed.
Instead, Amjad will act as a contract advisor on public health matters and will report directly to the Governor’s Office as of October 1.
“She is stepping down as a state employee and will serve on a contractual basis as senior adviser to the state health officer and commissioner of the Public Health Service.” said justice. “While she’s stepping down, she’s not going anywhere, she’s not leaving us… We’re going to take a step back and thank her for her great service. She’s done a great job.”
A native of Raleigh County and a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, Amjad holds a medical degree from Marshall University, a master’s degree in public health from West Virginia University, and worked as an internal medicine physician. She managed her two clinics in Beckley and Princeton, West where she practiced medicine for her ten years in Southern Virginia.
Amjad is also a candidate for public office and ran in the 2018 Republican primary for the 3rd congressional district. The judiciary appointed Amjad as state health officer in July 2020. Amjad returns to his West Virginia clinic.
“Serving on the Pandemic Leadership Team and DHHR alongside you and our entire team has been a highlight of my career.” Amjad told Justice. “I miss my patients. It’s been a great bond for me and a great way to find out what’s going on. I am very happy to be able to continue working.”
Public Health is the agency of the Department of Health and Human Resources that responds to Secretary Bill Crouch.
The agency oversees several agencies on the frontlines of the pandemic, including the Agency for Epidemiology and Prevention Services and the South Charleston State Laboratory.
“She will continue to provide medical supervision and serve as the state health officer until a permanent replacement is made.” Crouch said. “Dr. Amjad has been a valuable member of the DHHR leadership team and has been a valuable asset to him personally and to me.”
Amjad succeeded Dr. Cathy Slemp, who resigned in the summer of 2020, four months after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
Sremp resigned after Justice expressed dissatisfaction with her office’s inconsistent handling of COVID-19 data and the number of active cases.
“Dr. Amjad came and stepped up at a time when we really, really needed someone. said justice. “She’s off the charts because she’s so smart. And she’s so kind and good at what she does.”