Long-time Delaware public health leader to step down

File photo: Delaware Div. of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

File photo: Delaware Div. of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. (Saquan Stimpson for WHYY)

Dr. Karyl Rattay has led the Delaware Div. of Public Health since 2009, and has been a fixture as the state battled COVID-19. She’ll leave her job at the end of June.

She is the nation’s longest serving public health director, according to the state Dept. of Health and Social Services. Dr. Rattay started her tenure as director of the Division of Public Health under then-Gov. Jack Markell as the H1N1 flu pandemic was emerging. She’ll end her tenure on June 30 after leading the state’s response to the worst pandemic in over a century.

“It has been the greatest honor of my lifetime to serve Delawareans in this role,” Rattay said in a statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have served under Governor Carney, and Governor Markell before him. I could not be prouder of the DPH team and what we have accomplished together over the past 13 years.”

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In addition to heading up the state’s pandemic response, Rattay has led 1,000 employees in DPH’s efforts to promote health, reduce health inequities, and protect Delawareans from disease, environmental hazards, and public health emergencies.

“When you work with someone through a crisis, you really see what they’re made of. Dr. Rattay is smart, steady, focused, and committed,” said Gov. John Carney. “Most importantly, though, she is kind and compassionate. Her style of leadership and her work ethic are what helped Delaware make it through this pandemic. And the work Dr. Rattay did at Public Health in the decade leading up to the pandemic is why her team was ready and able to step up and manage this crisis.”

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DHSS says Rattay is “not ready to announce her next role,” but is excited about new opportunities.

Among successes during her tenure, DHSS points to the state’s nearly 30% drop in infant mortality plus a 25% reduction in unwanted pregnancies through the Delaware Contraceptives Access Now initiative. The state also saw a 14% drop in cancer mortality by increasing prevention, screening, and treatment initiatives.

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