Politics & Government

Commissioner of state health agency replaced abruptly

The leader of the state department that oversees services for Kentuckians with mental illness and intellectual disabilities was abruptly replaced on Thursday.

Officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services declined to elaborate on the departure of Stephen Hall, who was named commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities in 2009.

Hall, whose position was a political appointment, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Jill Midkiff, a spokeswoman for the cabinet, said Thursday afternoon that "there has been no final personal action" regarding Hall, but cabinet Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes met with Hall's staff Thursday morning to announce that Betsy Dunnigan, deputy commissioner of the department, will serve as acting commissioner.

Haynes thanked Hall in a memo about the change to the department's 3,000 employees.

"We certainly wish Dr. Hall well ... and appreciate his services to the department, our consumers and the people of Kentucky," Haynes wrote.

Dunnigan has been with the cabinet for nearly 20 years, according to the memo. She was first appointed acting deputy commissioner in 2006 and was named deputy commissioner in 2009.

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