N.J. health commissioner steps down

    New Jersey’s health commissioner has announced her resignation.

    Poonam Alaigh said Friday she’s leaving the job because of an urgent family illness. Deputy Commissioner Mary O’Dowd will become acting commissioner, and Gov. Chris Christie plans to nominate her to replace Alaigh on a permanent basis.

    Medical Society of New Jersey CEO Michael Kornett is concerned that O’Dowd is not a doctor.

    “We’ve had others in the past who were non-physicians and there was always an educational process on every issue, and sometimes they got it and sometimes they didn’t,” Kornett said. “When you have a physician there, they get it right away. You don’t have to explain things.”

    Dr. Christina Tan, state epidemiologist, has been named acting deputy commissioner. That will satisfy the requirement that a physician in is one of the top two spots in the department.

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