A top health official is leaving the Arizona Department of Health Services Leave a comment

Jessica Rigler, a top official with the Arizona Department of Health Services and a state leader during Arizona’s COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving her job.

Rigler’s last day is April 1 and she will be moving to a position with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, state health department spokesperson Steve Elliott confirmed Thursday. Former ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ is the chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

As assistant director for the department’s division of public health preparedness, Rigler has assumed a more high-profile role with the state ever since the departure of Christ, who left her job with ADHS in August.

Don Herrington was named interim director after Christ left and that’s when Rigler began taking on an increasing amount of media interviews, becoming a public face of the department.

But Rigler has been a key figure throughout Arizona’s pandemic, as her job had oversight of Epidemiology and Disease Control, Emergency Medical Services, Public Health Statistics, Public Health Emergency Preparedness and the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory.

Rigler has worked in various roles at the state agency for more than 12 years, according to an online ADHS biography.

Among other positions, she served as the state’s first healthcare associated infections coordinator, and led its Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control.

She has bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and human development from the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s degree in public health from Emory University.

Other high-level ADHS employees who are no longer with the department include Colby Bower and Rob Bailey, Elliott confirmed.

“We are grateful for their years of distinguished service to ADHS and the people of Arizona. We wish them well in their next professional chapters,” Elliott wrote.

“ADHS employees are ready to carry on this agency’s mission of promoting the well-being of Arizonans. Our commitment to public health continues unabated, in particular our role in the state’s COVID-19 response.”

Officials with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona confirmed that both Bower and Bailey are working there, and that Rigler will soon be joining as staff vice president of population health and innovation.

When she stepped down as director, Christ said she didn’t want to leave but she knew that with an upcoming administration change her position was not an indefinite one. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s term ends this year and Ducey appointed Christ.

ADHS includes about 1,500 employees and, like many public health departments across the country, it was the target of some criticism and anger during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reach the reporter at Stephanie.Innes@gannett.com or at 602-444-8369. Follow her on Twitter @stephanieinnes

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