Dr. James McDonald to step down from Department of Health next month

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Gov. Dan McKee’s office said Thursday that Dr. James McDonald will step down as the interim director of the Department of Health next month.

The governor’s office said that McDonald is resigning to “focus on emerging healthcare needs of his family.” His last day as interim is on July 29.

“We had to make this very difficult decision, but it was really about what was best for my family,” McDonald said to ABC 6 News Thursday.

McDonald will continue to serve in that role until the state finds a successor.

McDonald told ABC 6 he’s leaving the Department of Health because his mother has Alzheimer’s and his father, who’s 91 years old, is struggling to take care for her.

“We chose our family first, and that’s a new space for me,” McDonald explained. “That’s what really led to this decision.”

He will be moving back home to upstate New York.

“I will always have wonderful and warm memories of my time spent here in this great state,” said McDonald.

During the height of the pandemic, the doctor became a familiar face to Rhode Islanders and was known for his “easy-to-understand explanations and simple tips.”

“Dr. McDonald has provided steady leadership to our state and great counsel to me as we continued our work to manage COVID-19,” said the governor. “Thanks to Dr. McDonald and his team, we know we have the tools to keep ourselves and our families safe.”

In a letter to McKee, McDonald wrote, “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve in this capacity; however, at this time, I need to put the needs of my family first.”

McDonald stepped into the interim director position after Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott left her post as director of the Department of Health earlier this year.

“I thank Dr. McDonald for stepping up and taking on this interim position. We will be keeping his family in our thoughts,” said McKee.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island