Effective immediately, Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH, is on a medical leave of absence unrelated to COVID-19. Bharel is expected to return to work in early October, according to a media release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health today. Department of Health General Counsel Margret Cooke has been appointed Acting Commissioner during Commissioner Bharel’s medical leave by Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health & Human Services.

All of us wish Commissioner Bharel a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming her back to the Department,” said Secretary Sudders. “In the interim, I have every confidence in Acting Commissioner Cooke’s ability to provide the executive leadership for the Department during this time. ~ Secretary Marylou Sudders

Margret Cooke joined the Department of Public Health as General Counsel in 2015.  Previously she served as Deputy Bureau Chief in the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau in the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.

I appreciate the leadership of Margret Cooke and all of the DPH team to continue to assist the state in responding to the pandemic as well as managing our public health programs on behalf of the residents of the Commonwealth. ~ Commissioner Bharel


Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Bharel as commissioner of the Health Department in 2015. She has been a central figure in the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis and has taken part in many of the Governors daily media briefings throughout the COVID-19 crisis. She also collects and produces data reports and serves on the governor’s reopening advisory board.

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