Cara Christ stepping down as Arizona Department of Health Services director
PHOENIX – Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving the state agency next month, Gov. Doug Ducey announced Wednesday.
Christ’s last day as Arizona’s top public health official will be Aug. 27. She’s moving on to become chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, according to a press release.
“Before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, my number one priority has been protecting the health of Arizonans all across our state,” Christ said in the release.
“When the pandemic hit, the entire state came together to contain the spread and protect one another — and I’m grateful to everyone who worked with our team at the Arizona Department of Health Services to protect fellow Arizonans. It has been an honor to lead ADHS and work to keep Arizonans of all ages, backgrounds and unique needs healthy and safe.”
Christ rose to national prominence during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and after vaccines became available. Arizona was praised as a model for other states after setting up a mass vaccination site at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. In February, she gave a virtual tour of the facility to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“When Cara Christ became a doctor, she did it to help others and save lives. That’s exactly what she’s done,” Ducey said in the release.
“She dedicated countless hours to protecting millions of Arizonans from the COVID-19 pandemic — and she’s done it with grace, stability and confidence.”
An infectious disease epidemiologist, Christ has been with ADHS since 2008 and took over as director in May 2015.
“By mid-August, Dr. Christ will be the longest-serving ADHS director,” Ducey said. “And she was a dedicated leader long before the pandemic hit.”
After the announcement was made, ADHS released a note Christ sent to the staff, which thanked them and said she remained committed to helping support the agency.
“There will be more news in the coming days about short- and longer-term plans for agency leadership,” the note said.
“For now, please accept my sincere thanks. I’ll admit a heavy heart as I write this, but one thing I don’t worry about is ADHS. The talent, professionalism, creativity, and camaraderie that drives this team every day ensures that ADHS will continue making Arizona a better place.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.