Minnesota Health Commissioner Dianne Mandernach will step down in early October, state officials said. The news, released by Gov. Tim Pawlentys office, comes after reports that she withheld research on mesothelioma, a rare cancer, among Minnesota miners.
The Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reported in June that Mandernach delayed for a year releasing data that found greater numbers of mesothelioma cases. Mandernach will step down Sept. 20, though her resignation is effective Oct. 2.
In a statement, Mandernach said she will spend time with her family before deciding about any future professional plans. She stepped down as the chief executive officer of 109-bed Mercy Hospital and Health Care Center, Moose Lake, Minn., to become Minnesotas top health official in February 2003.
This decision is very difficult because I firmly believe in the departments mission to protect, maintain and improve the health of all Minnesotans, she said in a written statement. I will miss the opportunity I have had to contribute to that mission and to lead one of the best health departments in the nation.
Pawlenty praised Mandernach in the statement announcing her departure. I sincerely appreciate Diannes willingness to set aside her private career for a time to serve Minnesota, he said in a written statement. Pawlentys spokesman did not return calls seeking comment. -- by Melanie Evans
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