A pediatrician will be the new director of the Allegheny County Health Department. Dr. Debra Bogen is currently the vice chair for education in the Department of Pediatrics at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Pending state approval, she'll take over the role permanently on May 4.
Bogen replaces former director Dr. Karen Hacker, who left the ACHD in August 2019 for a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Her hiring comes amidst concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The ACHD has been updating residents about precautionary measures and plans in case the virus makes its way to western Pennsylvania.
Bogen is also the volunteer medical director and one of the founders of the Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank, located in the Strip District, which provides pasteurized donated human breast milk to needy infants. At Wednesday’s announcement Bogen said one of her areas of focus will be infant and maternal mortality.
"I'm committed to making this a priority and will work with community partners, advocates, organizations and agencies on this vital public health issue," Bogen said.
A recent study by Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Commission indicated maternal mortality rates were particularly high among Black women in the city.
Bogen's arrival coincides with the ongoing contentious issue of air quality in Allegheny County. U.S. Steel currently faces $2.7 million in fines over air pollution violations at Clairton Coke Works and must make $200 million worth of improvements to the facility.
"I've seen firsthand how air quality impacts health in many children I care for with asthma," Bogen said. "I'm eager to work with the Allegheny County Health Department’s highly-qualified staff to tackle this issue, and county leadership, community groups and others."