Robert McSwain on Tuesday resigned as principal deputy of the Indian Health Service, which provides healthcare and disease-prevention services to about 2.2 million Native Americans and Alaska natives, and has 15,369 employees.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in an e-mail to IHS staff that McSwain, who is a member of the North Folk Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, had requested to move into another capacity at IHS in order to spend more time with family.
He has served in his post since February 2015, when he took over for Dr. Yvette Roubideaux.
Last year, IHS had a budget of $4.8 billion (PDF).
Mary Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation, has been promoted to succeed McSwain. She previously was IHS deputy director, Burwell said.
Smith joined IHS in October 2015 and has led progress in advancing behavioral health as well as native youth initiatives like Generation Indigenous, Burwell said. She added that Smith has been the primary liaison between the IHS and other federal agencies.
“I am very pleased to have Mary serve as Principal Deputy, and look forward to working with her in her new role,” Burwell said in the email.
Last month, federal officials announced plans to improve care at hospitals that treat Native Americans in four Great Plains states. That will include the creation of a multi-agency group that focuses on quality and patient safety, as well as designating a single organization to accredit Indian Health Service hospitals.
Correction, March 10, 2016:
A previous version of this story mischaracterized the circumstances of Roubideaux's departure from the position.