Schrader Taps Schuh, Chan for Deputy Posts at the Md. Department of Health

Health Secretary Dennis R. Schrader at City of Praise Ministries in Landover. Maryland Department of Health photo.

Finally ensconced as the permanent secretary at the Maryland Department of Health, Dennis R. Schrader on Thursday announced several appointments to his senior leadership team — including former Anne Arundel County executive Steve Schuh (R) as a deputy secretary.

In all, Schrader, who won confirmation earlier this month, named half a dozen officials to new roles, either promoting from within or hiring from the outside.

“They will prove invaluable in our fight against COVID-19 and the numerous other areas where we remain focused to keep Marylanders healthy and safe,” Schrader said in a statement.

Dr. Jinlene Chan has been appointed deputy secretary for Health Services. Chan, who has been serving as acting deputy secretary for public health services for the past nine months, has helped shape the state government’s response to COVID-19, including leading the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. She took over for Fran Phillips, a public health icon in Maryland who retired last summer.

With her new title, in addition to being in charge of the department’s public health programs, Chan will also oversee the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Office of Provider Engagement and Regulation, the Vital Statistics Administration, the Office of Population Health Improvement, local health departments, and the State Anatomy Board.

Like Phillips, Chan is a former Anne Arundel County health officer.

Schuh, who has headed the state’s Opioid Operational Command Center since 2019, will become deputy secretary for Health Care Financing and Medicaid, a position that had been vacant for several months. Schuh also had been  acting as the unofficial liaison between the Hogan administration and local elected officials during the COVID-19 pandemic, on the theory that he understood their concerns and the pressures under which they operate.

Schuh was Anne Arundel County executive from 2014 to 2018 before losing re-election, and spent eight years in the House of Delegates before that. Prior to his political career, Schuh was an executive at two international financial services firms, focusing on health care corporate finance.

Also getting new roles at the agency:

  • Steve Kolbe has been permanently appointed as chief technology officer after serving in the role in an acting capacity since January. He previously held IT leadership positions at the Maryland Department of Transportation and at the Department of Information Technology.
  • Tricia C. Roddy, who has spent almost two decades in the agency’s Medicaid office, has been appointed deputy Medicaid director. She has served as assistant Medicaid director since March 2020.
  • Dr. Jeffrey S. Woolford has been appointed assistant secretary and chief medical officer, where he will oversee the state’s mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics and other public health initiatives. He previously served as director of Community and Facility Initiatives at the health department, and is a former chief of staff at the Maryland Department of Human Services.
  • Joel Frushone has been appointed director of External Affairs. He has more than 25 years of communications, media, external affairs, and government relations experience, including a stint as director of External Affairs and Communications at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

Schrader became permanent secretary after two stints as the acting secretary and another heading up the agency’s IT programs. Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) first nominated him for the post in 2017, but his confirmation was stalled in a political stalemate between Hogan and legislative Democrats.

Hogan nominated him again after former secretary Robert R. Neall retired in December.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.