Wayne County hires new health director

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Wayne County has a new director of Health, Human & Veterans Services in Melita Jordan of Morgantown, Pennsylvania. 

Jordan will start May 3, she told the Wayne County Commission after its unanimous April 13 vote to hire her.

“The health of our residents is critical to the overall health and wellness of a community,” Jordan said in a statement. 

Melita Jordan

The county's chief operating officer, Genelle Allen, had served as interim director prior to Jordan's appointment. Allen will remain COO.

Jordan will start in the 15th month of a COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 4,168 people in Wayne County and Detroit and sickened nearly 140,000. 

"(Jordan) has to fit some big shoes here," said County Commissioner Monique Baker McCormick, D-Detroit, who chairs the Health and Human Services Committee. "Ms. Jordan's hiring is timely because we need the support and we need the help." 

"Being a lifelong Detroiter, and knowing that we were hardest hit by COVID, with so many lives lost in my district alone, we know there are health disparities," Baker McCormick added. 

Wayne County said it was looking for a "transformative leader" for a role that covers public health, juvenile justice, jail medical services, veterans services and the medical examiner.

County Executive Warren Evans said, in a statement, that Jordan's "experience as both a front-line practitioner and as an administrator uniquely positions her" for the job. 

Jordan was hired at a salary of $180,000 and will be given $5,000 to relocate from Pennsylvania. Wayne County did not immediately respond to a public records request for Jordan's contract. 

Jordan beat out a field of 35 candidates, including 17 people who were interviewed and six who were finalists.

Wayne County describes the interview process as "rigorous." It entailed several panel interviews, "individual meetings with all direct reports" and a tour of the county's jail medical operation.

Most recently, Jordan served as senior executive services director for the New Jersey Department of Health, a post she held from August 2012 to September 2020, according to the resume she provided the county. She started in the medical field as a midwife.