Dr. Brannon Trexler takes over for Dr. Joan Duwve, who announced she was leaving the agency.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s health agency has announced a new interim leader for the state’s public health services, a day after the person who previously held that position both announced she had a new job and then withdrew from that position.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) said Friday that Dr. Brannon Traxler, who has been serving as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response, will assume the role of interim director of Public Health.
She takes over for Dr. Joan Duwve, who’d been DHEC’s Director of Public Health since April. In that role she was one of the state’s chief communicators about the coronavirus. But Thursday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that Duwve had accepted a position to be that state’s director of public health.
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Hours later, however, there was an abrupt about face, as Ohio announced Duwve had withdrawn her name for consideration from that post.
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“Understandably, Joan has made a career decision that she feels is in the best interest of her family and we respect this decision,” said acting DHEC Director Marshall Taylor. “Joan is a brilliant physician who is passionate about public health and we greatly appreciate the time she spent with DHEC as our director of Public Health. We wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
Dr. Traxler will assume her role as interim director of Public Health effective immediately. To support a smooth transition in agency-wide public health operations, Dr. Duwve will stay on with the agency in an advisory role until Oct. 1, 2020.
“I have the utmost confidence in Brannon’s ability to lead the state’s public health efforts during these challenging times,” said Taylor. “Brannon’s breadth of experience and knowledge in medical practice as a surgeon as well as the Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response, uniquely positions her for this critical role and I look forward to our continued work together.”
Traxler has also been a person who’s done briefings with Gov. McMaster about the virus. She announced months ago that she lost her grandmother to the virus.
“We all felt very strongly that if something good can come out of something bad we want it to,” Traxler said. “If one person sees my story and makes a decision to change their behavior and that is likely saving sickness and saving people from death then it’s worth it.”
Traxler is trained and board certified in General Surgery. She previously practiced as a surgeon in South Carolina before changing her specialty focus to public health, serving as physician for DHEC in the areas of infectious disease surveillance and control and emergency preparedness and response.
Dr. Traxler earned her medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and her Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology at the Clemson University Honors College.