Some of you may be worried that the spreading Ebola outbreak landed in Ohio on a Frontier Airlines flight from Texas a few days ago.  But have no fears.  You can all rest easy knowing that a medical professional with extensive public health experience is guiding our state’s response to the looming Ebola crisis… Right?

Ohio law requires that the head of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), the agency responsible for managing public health emergencies, be either a “physician holding the degree of doctor of medicine” or an “individual who has had significant experience in the public health profession.”  But as we reported in early August, Governor John Kasich recently ousted Medical Doctor Ted Wymyslo as head of the ODH, replacing him with Rick Hodges, a former Republican state rep and lobbyist who is neither a medical doctor nor an expert in public health.

We raised concerns at the time of Hodges’ appointment about his ability to handle a crisis like this, noting that none of his many online résumés and bios included any experience related to public health.  “When the Ebola outbreak or some other big public health emergency hits Ohio,” we wrote on August 2nd, 2014, “do you want an experienced medical doctor in charge of the health department?  Or a guy whose top skills include ‘event planning’ and ‘public affairs and communications’?”

The Kasich Administration quickly responded to our concerns over Hodges’ qualifications… by having Hodges alter his LinkedIn profile.  Within hours, Hodges’ profile was magically amended to include a marketing position with a small hospital in Wauseon, Ohio.   Even with this new-found “experience,” Hodges still failed to meet the requirements set forth in state law for the director of ODH.

Kasich has made it clear, time and again, that he’s more interested in loyalty than experience or competence.  He’s made it clear that political allies and friends get leadership positions in state government, and anyone who dares disagree or question him gets the boot.  And he’s made it clear that he doesn’t care about state law or any of those pesky requirements like, you know, making sure the guy responsible for managing public health emergencies in Ohio actually has some knowledge and experience in public health.

We can’t really blame Hodges for being unqualified.  But we can, and should blame John Kasich.

The big question here: will the specter of a catastrophic Ebola outbreak finally make John Kasich and his team rethink their strategy of appointing unqualified political allies to important positions in state government?  Or will they simply cross their fingers, hope for the best, and make a note to have the next guy update his LinkedIn profile BEFORE they announce the appointment?

  • DublinIrishBob

    Wow! Thank goodness the people of Ohio don’t care about this.

  • wetsu

    Hodges would never be in the loop if an outbreak were to occur, the real medical professionals would take over. Hodges is just stealing a pay check. I doubt that he ever figures into any meaningful decisions beyond how best to funnel taxpayer money to Kasich buddies.

  • john curry

    Yes, but….Rick Hodges stayed at Motel 6 one night and he instantly became an MD and a specialist in diseases! What’s not to like?

  • Spitfiremk1

    Hodges is always looking for a hand-out. He did nothing for the Turnpike while he was there (except to write a couple of “editorials” in the employee’s newsletter telling all of them how lucky they were to have him there. Not to put too fine of a point on it, with Jolly Ric Hodges as the top lab coat, we should be petrafied. Can you blame him for not being qualified? No, but you CAN blame him for practicing medicine without a license.

    As for John Kasich making “qualified” appointments, we’ve known from the start that this is not the beast’s nature.

  • Spitfiremk1

    He couldn’t find a motel 6 with both hands.

  • DublinIrishBob

    I just watched WCMH News (Ch.4, Columbus) and although they had a lead story about Ohio’s response to Ebola, the name Rick Hodges never was mentioned.

  • One more reason to keep reading Plunderbund!

    ——– Original message ——–

  • Susan Riley

    Since Ebola/Kasich’s calling in CDC Reps,/the election etc. are all over the news right now, this might be a good time to reiterate to the local press and media to the fact that Hodges is neither a physician nor a public health worker and that Kasich is breaking the law and putting Ohio’s citizens at risk

  • buckeyewill

    Truth is neither pretty or popular, but always RIGHT.

    Thanks PB

  • Bryan

    the real medical professionals would take over

    just stealing a pay check

    doubt that he ever figures into any meaningful decisions

    stayed at Motel 6 one night and he instantly became an MD and a specialist in diseases

    is neither a physician nor a public health worker

    So, are you saying the same things about your messiah Obama’s new Ebola Czar, Ron Klain? Speaking of the appointment, CNN says “Klain is highly regarded at the White House as a good manager with excellent relationships both in the administration and on Capitol Hill. His supervision of the allocation of funds in the stimulus act — at the time an incredible and complicated government undertaking — is respected in Washington. He does not have any extensive background in health care but the job is regarded as a managerial challenge.” I guess since you find it stupid to appoint a non-medical person to manage medical stuff, you must have suddenly realized your hero Barry is stupid.

  • Spitfiremk1

    I was not aware of any federal law that requires a “Czar” to be anything other than a manager, but Ohio Law requirements for the head of ODH are specific. Hodges is totally out of his orbit by anyone’s definition. Jolly Hodges’ appointment is a political payoff and that’s the name of that tune!

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