A new permanent Arkansas Department of Health head has been appointed.
Dr. Jose Romero has been appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to serve as the permanent Department of Health Secretary. Romero has served as the interim health department head since late May when Dr. Nate Smith announced his intention to resign for join the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the deputy director for the CDC’s Public Health Service and Implementation Science.
Romero will now be one of the 15 cabinet-level secretaries who report directly to Hutchinson.
“We’ve been blessed first with Dr. Nate Smith with such a national reputation as our Secretary of Health. Of course, he’s gone to the CDC. BUT we also have been blessed with Dr. Jose Romero, who also has a distinguished national reputation for his work with infectious disease,” Hutchinson said.
Romero called the announcement as “significant honor” and a “privilege.” He said that the Department of Health lineage was impressive but he hoped to meet the challenge.
“It will be a tough act to follow Dr. Nate Smith. We have a very illustrious number of Secretaries of Health who have served in this position in the past. I will strive to meet that expectation,” Romero said.
Romero is the director of Arkansas Children’s Pediatric Infectious Diseases Section as well as a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine professor in pediatrics. Hutchinson said Romero came to Arkansas in 2008 as director of pediatric infectious disease for UAMS.
He attended medical school at the University of Autonoma de Guadalajara and had interships at both Centro Medico Del Noroeste Program and at SUNY at Stony Brook State University. Romero also had a residency and fellowship at Stony Brook State University as well as a fellowship at the University of Colorado.