It should come as a relief to everyone in Lexington that trusted, proven leadership has been restored to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.
Dr. Rice Leach, who took over as county health commissioner yesterday, is an excellent choice to steer the department out of its tailspin.
Mayor Jim Gray was deeply involved in discussions over last weekend that led to Leach, a former state health commissioner, taking over from Dr. Melinda Rowe.
She resigned as the health department's head on Tuesday. Also resigning Tuesday was chief operating officer Rodger Amon.
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Few agencies of local government are more vital to Lexington's well-being than the health department whose responsibilities range from restaurant sanitation to preventing outbreaks of contagious disease.
Although he has been in office only two months, Gray was wise to have immersed himself in developing a quick resolution.
From what's known, Leach has a lot of fires to battle simultaneously. He brings deep experience to the challenge — a long career in public health, including 12 years as Kentucky's public health commissioner, followed by a stint heading the health department's Primary Care Center.
He left that post less than a year ago because of his misgivings about the health department's leadership and since then has overseen a medical residency program at the University of Kentucky.
Questions about the governance and future of the Primary Care Center are at the heart of the festering controversy that finally burst into public view last month.
The center, one of about 1,000 funded by the federal government to provide primary medical care to the uninsured, treats about 17,000 patients a year and is a vital link in Lexington's social safety net.
The synergies between the federally funded center and the local health department make them logical partners; making that partnership work requires a level of management finesse that apparently has been lacking.
What isn't lacking is dedicated core staff and medical professionals who care deeply about serving the underserved.
Health department employees have shown a lot of courage and commitment to the agency by helping bring its problems to light.
With better leadership — not just from the commissioner's office but also from the Board of Health — they should be able to get back to doing what they do best: caring for patients and protecting public health.