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Yale School of Medicine's Dr. Manisha Juthani nominated as CT Public Health Commissioner

If Dr. Juthani is confirmed, she will replace the interim commission, Dr. Diedre Gifford. Social Services Commissioner Dr. Gifford will be a Senior Advisor.

HARTFORD, Conn — Governor Ned Lamont has nominated Dr. Manisha Juthani to serve as the state's Commissioner for the Department of Public Health. The Governor made the announcement during a press conference Monday. 

Dr. Juthani currently serves as an infectious diseases doctor at the Yale School of Medicine. She specializes in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of infectious diseases in older adults. She frequently took part in Gov. Lamont's COVID-19 press briefings. 

“Dr. Juthani’s background in infectious diseases will be a tremendous benefit to the people of Connecticut as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen our vaccination efforts,” Governor Lamont said. “When seeking candidates to serve in this role, Dr. Juthani came recommended by many top experts in this field, and I am thrilled to have her join our administration. I’m incredibly proud that Connecticut is among the leading states in vaccinating our residents, but as this pandemic continues, we need to implement sound policies that will keep the rates of transmission as low as possible.”

If confirmed, Dr. Juthani will be replacing the current interim commissioner, Dr. Deidre Gifford. In May of 2020, Gov. Lamont controversially appointed Dr. Gifford who replaced Renee Coleman-Mitchell. According to the AP, Coleman-Mitchell, a black woman, said Gov. Lamont fired and claimed discrimination. 

Dr. Gifford, who is also Connecticut's Social Service Commissioner, will serve Gov. Lamont as a Senior Advisor to him for Health and Human Services. 

“I am grateful to the civil servants at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, Dr. Gifford, and Governor Lamont for leading us through this pandemic to date,” Dr. Juthani said. “Under Dr. Gifford’s leadership, I look forward to continuing their efforts related to COVID-19, mental health, health equity, health disparities, and access to healthcare going forward.”

Dr. Juthani finished her undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania, then attended Cornell's medical school, completed her residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Campus, and was a chief resident at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

She arrived at Yale in 2002 for her infectious disease fellowship training and joined the faculty full-time in 2006. She became the infectious diseases fellowship training director in 2012.  

Dr. Juthani will need to be confirmed by the state Senate but it is unlikely the nomination will fail due to the Democratic majority in General Assembly.  If confirmed, she is set to begin her role at the Department of Public Health on September 20.

House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) released a statement praising Dr. Junthani's nomination and questions Dr. Gifford's new role in the Governor's administration. 

"We've gone far too long with one individual running both the Department of Public Health and the Department Social Services, two sprawling agencies that in ordinary times have considerable responsibilities," said Candelora. "I'm glad the Governor has taken a step toward installing a permanent DPH commissioner, and it's clear that Dr. Juthani possesses an impressive resume as both a physician, researcher, and leader in her fields of expertise."

Candelora added, "While I look forward to learning more about her thoughts on guiding schools and businesses as they bring back students and workers this fall, I’m among the many legislators immediately interested in receiving greater detail about the structure surrounding Dr. Gifford's newly-created position that carries the dual responsibility of coordinating the work of several state agencies and offering policy recommendations on an expansive set of topics. Ultimately, I hope this iteration of the governor's administrative team will be mindful of the collateral impacts its decisions have on the people of this state—whether it's an at-risk teenager feeling increasingly isolated, a restaurant owner struggling to keep his doors open, or someone simply trying to visit a parent in a nursing home."

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