K&A Completes Search for Allegheny County Public Health Director

K&A Completes Search for Allegheny County Public Health Director

August 7, 2020 – Dr. Debra Bogen will take the helm of the Allegheny County Health Department May 4 during a challenging time, with local air pollution, opioid and infant mortality problems already big public health issues, and COVID-19 looming on the near horizon.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced at a news conference Wednesday morning that Dr. Bogen, a Regent Square resident, would become the health department’s new director. And the county Board of Health unanimously approved the appointment Wednesday afternoon.

“This is an incredible opportunity to serve the community,” said Dr. Bogen, 57, who is the vice chair for education in the Department of Pediatrics with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and who described herself as “a community advocate for children’s health.”

Dr. Bogen earned her medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and completed post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. One of the founders of the Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank, she has been an advocate for issues of maternal and child health.
Dr. Bogen replaces Dr. Karen Hacker, who left for a position with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nine months ago.

Dr. Bogen said the county must improve its lagging infant mortality rate and said air quality is a “huge, important issue” that affects childhood asthma rates. And while she hopes to work cooperatively with industry, her goal is to improve air quality.

“I’m here as health director,” she said, “and I think we all want clean air and healthy families and healthy children.”

While there are no cases of COVID-19, the new coronavirus, in Allegheny County as yet, Dr. Bogen said she is already reviewing daily notices from the Centers for Disease Control, and the health department would stay on top of the pandemic.

Mr. Fitzgerald said the search committee conducted a nationwide hunt for a new director but selected someone local who knows the county system.

“We have many challenges ahead of us, but her focus on health equity and addressing those health issues where rates are racially disparate will allow us to continue moving towards a county that works for all,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “Just as importantly, she is energized and excited to jump into this position and serve our community. We are delighted to have her.”

The search committee was co-chaired by Dr. Edie Shapira and Grant Oliphant, CEO of the Heinz Endowments, with the help of search firm, Krauthamer & Associates.