ALBANY — The state Department of Health continues to see turnover among its employees as its second-in-command, Lisa J. Pino, departed Thursday after a little more than a year in the job.
Kristin M. Proud is now the acting executive deputy commissioner, the agency said. Politico first reported the staff changeover. Proud was the commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance from 2013 to 2015 during the administration of former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. She left the position as Cuomo was preparing for a second term.
“We thank Lisa Pino for her dedicated service and wish her well,” Department of Health spokeswoman Jill Montag said in a statement.
The department’s overall employment numbers over the last three years, from prior to the coronavirus to current, have remained relatively steady, based on data from the department. In April 2019, the start of the state’s fiscal year, the health department had 3,332 full time employees. In 2020, during the pandemic, that number rose to 3,457 and then by April of this year, it was down to 3,316, around its prior pandemic levels.
Still, there have been numerous departures from the department of mid-level and high-ranking staffers.
Pino’s employment with the state ended on Sept. 9, according to the state comptroller’s office.
A New York City native, Pino took over amid retirements and departures within the state’s health department last year.
Pino, who was making $187,000, replaced Sally Dreslin, who was reported at the time to be on leave since April, four months prior to the change. Dreslin, according to the state’s payroll database, is now working as a special assistant with the state’s Department of Mental Health. Her rate of pay was cut by about $18,000, down to $160,000.
Proud, according to the state database, was making $170,000 as a special assistant to the health department.
Pino came on in July 2020 as a former Obama administration official, in which she served in several high-ranking roles. Pino previously held the positions of senior counselor to the secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and the deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
State health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker remains in his post. Some Albany lawmakers, from the Republican leadership to some progressives, have called for Zucker’s resignation.
Some of the lawmakers have been pressuring Gov. Kathy Hochul to terminate the state’s top health official for his role with the Cuomo administration in distorting the death toll in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic; Cuomo has denied wrongdoing. In a January report by the office of state Attorney General Letitia James on the nursing home issue, Zucker was never mentioned. The names of Zucker, Dreslin and Cuomo were at the top of the controversial March 25, 2020, directive that had instructed nursing home operators they must accept residents discharged from hospitals, even if they were still positive for COVID-19.
Cuomo left office in August following a pending impeachment trial into issues that could have included James’ investigation that found he sexually harassed multiple women. The issues around the nursing home data and directives, lawmakers said, were also on the table for an impeachment trial. Hochul was sworn in three weeks ago and has said she would put together her administration within 45 days of taking office.
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