OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The outgoing acting commissioner of health will continue working at the state Department of Health under a new job title, he said Thursday.
The State Board of Health officially relieved Jerry Regier of his duties during a monthly meeting Thursday. But Regier told The Daily Oklahoman that his new position would be announced Friday and that he would continue pulling an annual salary of $126,999.
``I think we've made a difference and have accomplished a lot,'' Regier said. ``But these issues have been ongoing for years. We want to ensure the foundation we've built is one we can continue to build on.''
Regier, who is also Gov. Frank Keating's Cabinet secretary for health and human services, was appointed acting commissioner May 4, 2000, by the governor as a scandal within the department unraveled.
He fired Deputy Health Commissioner Brent VanMeter, who was later convicted of seeking a bribe from Wewoka nursing home owner Jim Smart.
Dr. Leslie Beitsch, former Florida assistant state health officer, will assume duties as the new state health commissioner.
The board also on Thursday elected new officers and welcomed a new member.
Dr. Ron Graves, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon from Ardmore, will replace Dr. Jay Gregory as president of the nine-member board. Graves, who was appointed to the board in 1997, has served as chief of surgery and chief of staff at Memorial Hospital of Southern Oklahoma.
Haskell Evans, a Lawton pharmacist, will serve as the board's vice president and Altus engineer Ron Osterhout was elected secretary-treasurer.
Dr. Ann Acers Warn of Lawton joined the board, replacing Dr. Brent Smith. Warn is an ophthalmologist with the Lawton Branch of the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute.
Board members also heard the results of a survey regarding nursing home care. Some 8,000 of the 24,000 people who received the surveys responded, said Jerry Regier, Health and Human Services cabinet secretary.
Of those who responded, 34.08 percent are very satisfied with the quality of life their loved one is receiving in a nursing home. Another 50.53 percent are satisfied, the results show.