State's Top Health Official Steps Down

The state's top health official will step down from her public post and become president of a New York-based health research foundation.

That announcement comes today from Carmen Hooker Odom, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Hooker Odom was hired by Governor Mike Easley in early 2001 to
oversee the department, which is the second largest state government agency in monetary size behind the Department of Public Instruction.

Hooker Odom says she'll join the Milbank Memorial Fund in October but plans to remain in her current position through the legislative session, scheduled to end this summer.

The health department has struggled to implement mental health care reforms during her tenure. And Hooker Odom has been criticized for alleged Medicaid irregularities related to supplemental funding for hospitals.