The Allen County Department of Health executive board unanimously approved the appointment of a new health commissioner Thursday.
Dr. Matthew Sutter was voted to take on the health commissioner role by all seven members of the executive board and has a tentative start date of June 15. Dr. Sutter is a practicing emergency medicine physician with more than 25 years of healthcare, public safety and leadership experience in Northeast Indiana. He will replace Dr. Deborah McMahan, who has served as the county health commissioner since 2000 and is retiring June 5.
“I want to thank the board for appointing me to such an important role during this global crisis,” Sutter said. “I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to work with such an effective team. Dr. McMahan has done an amazing job building up public health, and I hope to continue that legacy in our community.”
Sutter was selected as the final candidate for the role of health commissioner by a hiring committee comprised of three executive board members, department administrator Mindy Waldron and county commissioner Nelson Peters. The committee began working to develop a transition plan and seek out qualified candidates after McMahan announced her retirement earlier this year.
“I am very proud of the 20-year collaborative relationship I have enjoyed with Dr. McMahan and all we’ve accomplished together within the Department,” Waldron said. “I cannot express enough the gratitude we have for her passionate practice of public health over the past two decades. She will be missed. That said, I am excited about the opportunity to begin a new working relationship alongside Dr. Sutter and look forward to building a similar leadership team with him.”
The health commissioner position under Sutter will be a part-time role fulfilling high-level duties as medical director for the Department. He will be responsible for decision-making, public education, strategic planning, presentations, departmental representation, consultation on certain communicable disease actions and overall departmental direction. The health commissioner is a four-year appointment with unlimited reappointments.
“The many community members who know Dr. Sutter firmly acknowledge his great leadership and communication skills,” said executive board president Dr. William Pond. “We are so pleased to have been able to attract a candidate with such superb qualifications to carry on the outstanding work done by Dr. McMahan.”
Another part-time physician role will likely be hired in the near future to fulfill clinical needs deemed necessary after McMahan’s departure. This additional physician will work alongside full-time medical staff in the Department’s clinical settings seeing patients one to two days per week.
While Department leadership recognized the decision to split the health commissioner role into two part-time positions may not be ideal long-term, it still allows for all important functions to be fulfilled by qualified physicians without requiring a single individual take on the responsibilities of leading the county during a pandemic while still providing necessary daily clinical care through immunizations, exams and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and civil surgeon exams.