Dr. Sarah Moyer is the new director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness. | Photo courtesy of Metro Government

Mayor Greg Fischer has named a new director to oversee the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

Dr. Sarah Moyer was promoted from the position of medical director to take over the department following the departure of former health director JoAnn Schulte, whose tenure began in April 2016. A mayoral spokesman said Schulte opted not to renew her contract so she could return to her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Health department spokesman Dave Langdon told IL that Schulte informed her colleagues three weeks ago that she had accepted a job in the Houston area, as she was homesick for the city. He says that Moyer already is well-liked and respected by staff in the department, where she was instrumental in launching the syringe exchange in 2015.

In a statement officially announcing the appointment on Thursday, Mayor Fischer said he is confident Moyer will provide “strong leadership to help realize one of the primary goals of my administration – to make Louisville a much healthier place.” He went on to list her accomplishments thus far, saying, “Already, she has spearheaded the expansion of Louisville’s Smoke-Free Ordinance to include electronic cigarettes and hookah products, the establishment of Kentucky’s first Syringe Exchange Program, and the national accreditation of the department.”

The syringe exchange recently entered its third year, having distributed more than 1.2 million clean needles to clients dealing with drug addiction through May 2017.

Moyer joined Louisville’s health department in January 2015 as medical director; almost immediately, she was named interim health director following the departure of Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, who took a job in Washington D.C. Moyer served as interim director for 15 months.

“I’m honored by the confidence Mayor Fischer has shown in me by naming me the Director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness,” said Moyer. “I look forward to working with the fine staff of the department and with all of our community partners to improve the health of our city.”

Moyer attended Wake Forest School of Medicine, and in 2012, the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians named her “Outstanding Resident.” Prior to medical school, Moyer earned a master’s degree in public health from Dartmouth, and she earned her undergraduate degree from Colorado College, where she majored in physics.