Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday permanently appointed Dr. Cheryl Bettigole as Philadelphia’s health commissioner, effectively reinforcing her role as the face of the city’s coronavirus response.
Bettigole has served as acting health commissioner since May, when Kenney asked then-commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley to resign over the handling of remains from the 1985 MOVE bombing.
Kenney’s administration conducted a nationwide search, but they ultimately settled on Bettigole, who has been a director in the health department since 2015.
“Throughout her entire career, Dr. Bettigole has demonstrated a deep commitment to prioritizing equity, access, and prevention in public health,” Kenney said in a statement.
“I’m confident that with her experience, vision, and steadfast leadership, we’ve found the best person to lead the Health Department as we work urgently on multiple fronts to ensure the health and wellbeing of all residents,” he continued.
Bettigole said the pandemic “has underscored the importance of equity, access, and the use of a data-informed approach in every aspect of public health, and I am committed to championing those priorities in the work ahead.”
Farley led the city’s response to COVID-19 from the onset of the virus until May 13, the date he stepped down after admitting he had ordered MOVE remains to be destroyed.
The bone fragments, believed to belong to 14-year-old Tree Africa, were later discovered in a refrigerated room by an employee from the Medical Examiner’s Office.