CLAYTON – Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, will step down from his post on Sept. 2, officials announced Thursday.
Khan, 48, submitted a letter of resignation to county executive Sam Page on Thursday, calling his appointment over the past year “an honor and a privilege.”
The letter did not indicate a specific reason for leaving. Khan did not respond to a request for comment.
Khan has served as interim medical director since February 2021, returning to a department where he had worked from 2010 to 2018, including the past three years as a medical director.
In a statement Thursday, Page praised Khan’s leadership of the health department during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite “intense criticism” that included “threats to his life.”
The statement alluded to the pushback that Page and Khan faced last year by opponents of COVID-19 public health measures, at a time when Page and a majority of his board of critics disagreed over health orders and the pandemic aid spending; and a vocal anti-mask crowd regularly packed county council meetings.
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It culminated in a tense County Council meeting in July 2021, after which Khan, who had failed to get council support for a mask mandate amid a spate of COVID-19 cases, made a obscene gesture against a crowd opposed to the angry and vocal mask.
Khan, in a letter, acknowledged the gesture, but said it came after he was subjected to racist harassment by the crowd, blowing up councilor Tim Fitch, R-3rd District, for a “whistle” question that he said he intended to emphasize Khan’s Pakistani heritage: “Why are you called Dr. Khan? Are you a doctor in the United States? “
Khan also said council chairwoman Rita Days, D-1st District, didn’t do enough to step in and maintain the decor. The letter attracted national attention, gaining coverage from The Washington Post, MSNBC, PBS’s “NewsHour” and CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight”.
But claims of physical assault were later dwarfed by video and testimony from security officers, and Fitch called for Khan’s firing. A majority of the council voted 5-2 in December to reject his formal appointment as medical director, adding that they were further shocked by a leaked email Khan wrote to staff referring to anti-masks as “the fringe. Moody”.
Page, who told the board in September that he had “verbally reprimanded” Khan for giving the middle finger, kept Khan in an “acting” role and supporters said Khan had been under unfair pressure for trying to protect. public health.
“We appreciate Dr. Khan’s passion and leadership and wish him well in his next chapter,” Page said in a statement Thursday.
“Like medical directors across the country, he has faced intense criticism, including threats to his life, for following science and data in making decisions to protect our community from a deadly virus.”
Page spokesman Doug Moore said an interim medical director will be appointed in September just before Khan leaves.
Khan, in his resignation letter to Page, said he would spend the next two months working to ensure “continuity of efforts and a seamless transition plan for all operations of the Department of Public Health.”
“Thank you for your support and trust and I assure you that the Department of Public Health’s amazing team will continue to serve St. Louis County residents with selfless commitment and professionalism,” said Khan.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked in public service with selfless professionals. The health and well-being of St. Louis County residents are in good hands. “
Criticism of Khan had been a sticking point for Page’s political opponents, including Democratic challenger Jane Dueker and Republican candidate Shamed Dogan, a Ballwin state representative.
Dogan said Thursday he would do one of his first acts to fire Khan.
“Disappointed that I can’t fire this liar when I’m elected County Exec,” Dogan said on Twitter. “The typical Khans and Page, who give no reason to ‘resign’ and act like everything is fine.”
Fitch said Thursday that his disagreements were with Page and that Khan was caught in the middle “because he is serving for the county executive’s pleasure.” Fitch and a majority of the council had said the July mask order was illegal because Page hadn’t first gotten their approval.
“He might have felt very strong about the masks … but the way they did it, not following the law, it wasn’t about him, it was about Sam Page and in the county councilor’s office,” Fitch said. .
Fitch, a former county police chief when Khan had previously served in the health department, said he wanted to talk to Khan “one-on-one and sort it out.”
“I wish him well,” added Fitch.
Khan was CEO of the federally funded Samuel Rodgers Health Center in Kansas City between 2018 and 2021, and previously worked on HIV and AIDS prevention in South Africa, Botswana and China and for administrations. public and private health services in West Virginia and Massachusetts.
Originally posted at 1:10 pm on Thursday, June 1. Updated at 17:11 (tncms-asset) 6f6e1eec-4d59-11ec-81bd-00163ec2aa77(/ tncms-asset) (tncms-asset) d62df7dc-1641-11ec-b7cc-00163ec2aa77(/ tncms-activity) (tncms-activity) 0694b78a-f95a-11eb-b5b8-00163ec2aa77(/ tncms-activity) (tncms-activity) b372a0ba-b7f7-11eb-a24a-00163ec2aa77(/ tncms-asset)